NEC, a Japanese telecom equipment supplier and system integrator, has announced that it will establish an open ran promotion center in the UK, which may be aimed at replacing Huawei and helping build the next generation 5g network in the UK. NEC's so-called global open ran center of excellence aims to "accelerate the global adoption of open ran, further strengthen its structure and accelerate the global deployment of 5g".
NEC said the center will be responsible for business development, assisting project implementation and providing technical support for NEC's open ran business. The company will use its experience in supporting commercial deployment of open ran in Japan to help telecom service providers launch open ran networks around the world.
The center will work with the open ran Laboratory (technology validation facility) in India, which "will be responsible for establishing the open ran ecosystem, verifying interoperability in a multi vendor environment, and verifying product and system level performance and quality assurance.".
After banning Huawei's equipment on national security grounds, the UK invited NEC to support the UK's 5g network construction.
In March last year, NEC and Rakuten mobile, Japan's fourth largest mobile operator, announced that the latter's open ran network equipment had begun production at NEC's Fukushima plant.
Since then, Rakuten has been building base stations and launching 5g services in parts of Hokkaido, as well as in Tokyo and Osaka Kobe metropolitan areas. It aims to expand nationwide by March 2021.
Lotte mobile is creating what it calls "the world's first end-to-end fully virtualized cloud local mobile network", using devices and software from Cisco and Nokia as well as NEC to provide Japan's cheapest 4G and 5g services. The company is testing the feasibility of a flexible open architecture multi vendor solution to eliminate reliance on a single vendor customized network, which is well suited for countries such as the UK that are technologically advanced but lack large domestic telecommunications equipment suppliers.
In addition to promoting and supporting the open ran 5g network, NEC also plans to work with telecom operators to transform it into a digital service provider. Many of these services are likely to be launched by NEC itself.
NEC technologies widely deployed with 5g include facial recognition, biometrics, video analysis and industrial Internet of things (iiot). The target markets include public safety, network security, digital government, urban management, intelligent transportation and logistics, factory automation and digital medicine.