Malaysian telco conglomerate Axiata Group has partnered with Infosys, Parallel Wireless and Mavenir in a major network transformation program that leverages Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) as a key technology.
Axiata has already conducted successful Open RAN commercial field pilots in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka thanks to its strategic partnerships with Mavenir, a global network solutions provider, Open RAN architecture specialist Parallel Wireless and Infosys, which is the systems integrator (SI) for the project.
Open RAN technology provides disaggregated RAN functionality built using open interface specifications between various elements. It can be implemented in vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology based on open interfaces and community-developed standards.
The use of Open RAN technology in telco networks requires system integration capabilities to bring together the ecosystem of disaggregated components using standardised open interfaces on general purpose hardware, ensuring interoperability in a carrier grade environment, according to Axiata.
This is where Infosys’ involvement in the project comes in, with the Indian SI executing the multi-faceted system integrations required to demonstrate the comprehensive coverage of Open RAN configuration options.
“Open RAN is transforming the wireless architecture and is enabling telecom operators to be more competitive and innovative, while providing them flexibility in RAN component suppliers’ ecosystem,” said Anand Swaminathan, executive vice president and global industry leader for communications, media and technology at Infosys.
“The successful completion of the field trial on live network was a major milestone for accelerating the scaled deployment of virtual and Open RAN networks. Infosys is excited to be the SI partner to Axiata in this transformational journey and is committed to stand together to achieve many more milestones in the near future,” he added.
On the infrastructure side, Axiata has deployed Mavenir’s MAWair Open vRAN (virtualised RAN) solution including all G Open RAN, Packet Core and Mobile Network applications at the selected sites.
To simulate ‘non-ideal’ backhaul conditions, especially for rural areas, the sites selected are being connected with microwave link backhaul and, in some cases, satellite. Axiata claims this combination marks the initial trial deployments as the first satellite backhaul powered Open vRAN sites in the world.
The telco also claims that, during the testing phase, it was able to achieve the first live commercial service integration of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP)’s Evenstar 4G Radio through Mavenir’s MAVair O-RAN-based solution for Open RAN.
It should be noted that Axiata is a participant of the TIP initiative, which involves a global community of companies and organisations working together to accelerate the development and deployment of open, disaggregated and standards-based technology solutions that deliver high quality, low-cost connectivity.
Axiata said it successfully demonstrated commercial deployment of 2G and 4G Open RAN connectivity within its network in Sri Lanka, which is operated by its subsidiary Dialog Axiata. This was thanks to Parallel Wireless’s solutions, which enabled 2G and 4G technology to be installed on the same radio units.
The intention is for Axiata and its partners to launch large scale commercial deployments by the end of the year.
“Together with our partners Mavenir, Parallel Networks and Infosys, and in line with the global connectivity push under the Telecom Infrastructure Project, Axiata is committed towards embracing fully automated infrastructure to boost the open networks ecosystem in Asia,” said Thomas Hundt, Axiata Group executive vice president of technology.
“Our successful trials in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia prove that Open RAN solutions enable greater operational and cost efficiencies using advanced technologies, whilst also meeting the needs of our digital inclusion efforts across the region.
“We look forward to taking the next step towards commercialisation in our pursuit of catalysing game-changing advancements across emerging Asia,” he added.
On 21 June, Axiata Group and Norwegian telecommunications provider Telenor revealed they had reached a deal for the merger of their respective Malaysian mobile operations, Celcom and Digi.
The companies said at the time that they had successfully concluded due diligence and signed the transaction agreements for the proposed merger of Celcom Axiata and Digi, which for merger purposes will come together as ‘MergeCo’. Once the combination is complete, Celcom and Digi will become Celcom Digi Berhad.
If all goes to plan, the proposed merger is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.
Earlier in the month, Axiata Group, via its business-to-business unit Axiata Enterprise, indicated it would dramatically deepen its partnership with Google Cloud, striking a deal to roll out the cloud vendor’s services to its telco brands across Asia.