Mavenir boasts all-G support for Open RAN, packet core

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Nov 10, 2020

  • Vendor says it will soon have 2G/3G/4G/5G cloud native RAN and core 
  • Announces UK innovation centre for Multi-RAT R&D following acquisition of ip.access
  • Still licking its wounds after postponed IPO

Responding to the need of many operators to have support for all generations of cellular networking for virtualized mobile network technology deployments, Mavenir has announced plans to update its cloud native Open RAN and packet core software stacks, a move enabled following the recent acquisition of UK-based small cell specialist ip.access. (See Mavenir buys ip.access to boost Open RAN, enterprise portfolio.)

The vendor says support for 2G and 3G will be added to its Open RAN stack, which already supports 4G and 5G, “with fully containerized CU [centralized unit] and DU [distributed unit] to provide all-in-one Multi Radio Access Technology (Multi-RAT].”

Its packet core system will also be updated to support 2G and 3G, meaning Mavenir will be able to provide a single solution that can meet the 2G/3G/4G/5G access and core needs of mobile operators that want to adopt the kind of open, virtualized mobile networking technology that enables them to source best-of-breed, multi-vendor applications, rather than be tied to a pre-integrated, closed architecture. 

Based on feedback from its customers, the company “realized that we needed to bridge the legacy technology with Open RAN and cloud-native solutions. 2G/3G is still relevant in many markets for years to come,” noted CEO Pardeep Kohli. “With these solutions, our customers will be able to automate their networks and support all mobile technologies on a cloud-native network,” added the CEO in a press release announcing the move. 

The extended and expanded capabilities are expected to be available from the second quarter of 2021 and, importantly, be able to run on any virtualized and containerized platform.

In a related move, Mavenir has opened a Centre of Innovation in Cambridge, UK (the main location of ip.access staff), that will focus on the integration of 2G and 3G capabilities into its Open RAN platform.

Such capabilities are critical for the widespread adoption of virtualized and Open RAN systems. To date, Open RAN deployments of any note have been in standalone rural deployments or built by greenfield operators – for example Rakuten Mobile in Japan, which used Open RAN for its 5G launch, and DISH in the US, which is building its network but has not yet launched – that do not have to support legacy services. 

But a growing number of operators want to be able to benefit from the (perceived) flexibility and efficiencies of Open RAN by adding to their existing networks, in urban as well as rural areas, and be able to use the virtualized, disaggregated systems to support existing services. The growing vocal and active support for such moves – Vodafone just committed to thousands of Open RAN site deployments in the UK in the coming years – has led industry analysts to forecast a rapid rise in the value of planned Open RAN capex, with the market expected to be worth billions of dollars within a few years. (See Why Open RAN is just too hot to ignore and Open RAN radio unit market to be worth $47+ billion by 2026: Report.)

So Mavenir is undoubtedly making the right move, but it’s not the first to recognize the importance of Multi-RAT support, of course: That has been the attraction of Mavenir rival Parallel Wireless, which has long been offering a 2G-4G Open RAN platform and which added software support for 5G around beginning of this year.

Mavenir’s pitch is that it can also provide the packet core capabilities as well as the Open RAN tech in a single vendor relationship, something that would likely appeal to operators, which want the flexibility to mix and match technology components but prefer to deal at a business and support level with only a small number of key partners. 

The move by Mavenir to announce its multi-RAT Open RAN and core system development comes hot on the heels of its decision to postpone its IPO, which was put on ice only weeks after the vendor filed its flotation papers with the SEC. The Mavenir team cited “market volatility” as the reason for the swift u-turn. (See Mavenir puts its IPO on ice.)

-       Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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