Nokia spies Open RAN opportunity in Brazil

  • Nokia has teamed up with Brazilian R&D house CPQD
  • Focus will be on Open RAN-based 5G use cases
  • Near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) playing a key role

Nokia has teamed up with Brazil’s Telecommunications Research and Development Center (CPQD) to develop applications and functions for 5G based on the near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) element that is the intelligent heart of Open RAN deployments. 

The move suggests Nokia, which has been more proactive in the Open RAN sector than its main traditional mobile infrastructure rivals, believes the Brazilian market offers potential for Open RAN deployments.

The aim is to help develop applications and use cases in collaboration with, and suitable for, Nokia’s Brazilian mobile operator customers: Nokia cited “fixed wireless access (FWA), smart cities, IoT for Industry 4.0 and critical networks” as use case examples. 

Nokia’s customers in Brazil include the country’s three main wireless service providers – TIM Brazil, Vivo (Telefônica Brazil) and Claro (part of the América Móvil empire). Nokia has also reportedly engaged in 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) trials with business services provider AmericaNet. It's worth noting that both TIM and Telefónica are vocal supporters of Open RAN at a group level.

The move is exploratory but the timing of the collaboration might be spot on: Brazil's 5G spectrum auction has been subject to delays but is now expected to take place during the first half of this year; and the Open RAN market is still in its infancy but developing fast, with research house Dell'Oro expecting investments in disaggregated RAN technology to be worth $10 billion during the 2020-2025 period.  

For the collaboration, CPQD offers years of R&D experience and an intimate knowledge of the needs of Brazilian operators and users. It also has experience of testing and validating open, disaggregated technology from its hosting of a Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab.

Nokia, meanwhile, brings some technology to the party that provides the basis for the development of technologies and applications that would be compliant with O-RAN Alliance specifications.

Nokia’s Service Enablement Platform (SEP), it claims, “combines the capabilities of the RIC and multi-access edge computing (MEC)… [and] enables innovative use cases at the edge of the RAN. It runs on the edge or far edge datacenter and can share infrastructure with Cloud RAN or other virtualized network functions using open API capabilities to enable an agile and dynamic edge cloud environment for secure innovation with ecosystem and third parties.”

The RIC comes in two forms: The near-real-time RIC, which hosts xApps (such as SON tools and security apps) and collects data that is used for network optimization; and the non-real-time RIC, which performs network management tasks such as fault and device management.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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