NEC acquires Open RAN integrator Aspire

  • NEC is buying Irish systems integrator and test lab operator Aspire Technology
  • Aspire has long been involved in Open RAN developments
  • It is already a partner for Deutsche Telekom’s O-RAN Town development
  • NEC is seeking to position itself as the leading integrator for operators seeking to deploy multi-vendor disaggregated networks

NEC has further strengthened its position as one of the leading systems integrators for the Open RAN sector with the acquisition of Irish technology services firm Aspire Technology, which specialises in the design and integration of open networks.

Financial terms were not disclosed. 

NEC is already one of the most prominent providers of technology and associated services in the Open RAN sector, providing hardware, software and systems integration support to major operators that are early adopters of disaggregated radio access networks, such as NTT Docomo, Rakuten Mobile, Telefónica and Vodafone – see NEC builds the foundations for 5G and Open RAN-enabled global growth.

And it’s been expanding its product portfolio for the international Open RAN market via M&A activity too – see NEC makes sweet Open RAN harmony with Blue Danube Systems.

Its latest acquisition, which is expected to close this month, not only gives it hundreds of additional, experienced network planning, designing, testing and integration staff, it also strengthens its Open RAN-based relationship with one of the major flag-bearers for multi-vendor, disaggregated radio access networks, Deutsche Telekom.   

The giant German operator is putting Open RAN through its paces in a live trial environment it calls O-RAN Town, in Neubrandenburg near Berlin, where it is working with an array of technology suppliers, namely Dell, Fujitsu, Intel, Mavenir, NEC and Supermicro: NEC is providing its 32T32R 5G massive MIMO (mMIMO) radio units – see DT builds out its O-RAN Town, demos multi-vendor 5G slicing and Deutsche Telekom's six steps to Open RAN success

And Aspire has also played a key role. “Aspire Technology has been instrumental in bringing O-RAN Town to reality, working with Deutsche Telekom teams to architect the end-to-end blueprint for seamless deployment, both in terms of the overarching service network and the vertical integration of all Open RAN components,” the company stated in a post on its website last year. It also noted it has been supporting the German telco with “the further development of their service management and orchestration (SMO) platform,” which DT developed itself, based on ONAP open-source code, and “verifying the expanding O-RAN Town solution in the integration lab – enabling unified deployment, operation and support of O-RAN Town.”

That kind of experience will be invaluable to Aspire and NEC as more Open RAN plans are hatched by multiple operators, which looks set to happen during the next couple of years. That’s the sentiment in the industry but it is backed up by the results of a survey conducted late last year by Aspire and the GSMA, in which more than 60% of respondents said they planned to deploy Open RAN within two years. 

There’s more to Aspire than just planning and integration services, though: It’s also a key test partner for technology developers looking to get their product checked and verified before being put in front of network operators – Mavenir and VMware are just two of the companies working with Aspire on product development and testing.  

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.