The mobile operator Etisalat tests Open RAN from the US manufacturer Parallel Wireless on various national markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. As Parallel Wireless announced on February 18, 2020, are to be built with Open RAN 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks. "Parallel Wireless enables a move to open, software-based, and virtualized Open-RAN network architectures to address deployment and cost challenges"the company said.
All G services are to be brought together on a uniform software platform. By decoupling the RAN software from the hardware, it can run on cheap standard platforms, which should enable Etisalat to provide GPP-based multi-technology open RAN base stations with virtualized 2G, 3G and 4G technology, that can be upgraded to 5G. Hatem Bamatraf, CFO of Etisalat International, has announced that it will conduct field trials with various technology partners.
In order to produce network services more flexibly and to reduce the purchasing costs for the individual components, network operators are increasingly relying on standard components for hardware and software in order to decouple network control and data forwarding functions. Open RAN is currently being discussed as an alternative to Huawei's proprietary technology due to the US-China trade war. US Attorney General William Barr said about Open RAN: "The problem is that it is a far cry from the future. The approach is completely untested and would take many years to be successful." If at all, Open RAN would be ready for the market in a decade. Lisa Porter, responsible for research and development in the Ministry of Defense, also campaigned for Open RAN in December 2019.
Etisalat, based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, was founded over four decades ago in 1976. The mobile operator has over 148 million customers in 16 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa: in the United Arab Emirates (Etisalat), Saudi Arabia (Mobily), Morocco (Maroc Telecom), Pakistan (PTCL), Egypt ( Etisalat Misr), Afghanistan (Etisalat Afghanistan), Mauritania (Mauritel), Mali (Sotelma), Ivory Coast (Moov), Central African Republic (Moov), Gabon (Moov), Togo (Moov), Benin (Moov), Niger (Moov) , Burkina Faso (Onatel) and Nigeria (9mobile).
The Etisalat Group has a market cap of $ 40.3 billion. Etisalat was one of the first 5G operators in the world to start in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in early 2019.