Etisalat, STC, Zain, Mobily, and du agree a fundamental change in the way operators manage networks and deliver services.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Middle East operators to come together to promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility and efficiency of our networks." Hatem Bamatraf, Chief Technology Officer, Etisalat Group

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the five operators, Etisalat Group, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Zain Group, Mobily, and du, from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), sees them agree to deploy Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) solutions in their existing telecom networks as well as share their industry knowledge and experience in order to "drive innovation for the ICT sector across the Middle East."

In a move that echoes the MoU from five major European operators earlier this year, the aim is to be able to work with traditional vendor partners rather than replace them to build more agile and flexible mobile networks for 5G and 4G, as well as support new entrants with innovative solutions and achieve cost efficiencies in RAN deployments.

Haitham Alfaraj, Senior Vice President of Technology and Operations in stc Group, said “Our commitment has always been to deliver a best-in-class mobile network to our deserving customers." which should be demonstrated by offering customers services catering to the local market, faster, while using the most advanced mobile access networks – it will bring technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the forefront.

Nawaf Al Gharabally, Zain Group’s Chief Technology Officer, commented: “This joint and innovative initiative by like-minded and visionary regional mobile operators is truly inspirational as it brings multiple benefits to all our stakeholders and further enhances the Middle East telecom sector’s position on the ICT world map.”

Development of open RAN is fast becoming one of the most talked about topics in the telecom industry (read other Total Telecom coverage on the subject), and this reflects the comment from Saleem AlBlooshi, Chief Technology Officer, du, who said: “Driving innovation and Open RAN deployment is the shared responsibility of every telco operator.

Mobily Chief Technology Officer, Eng. Alaa Malki added “The implementation of Open RAN solutions supports the flexibility and provides more innovation in managing the network for more efficient operations. Mobily is willing to exert all efforts for the success of this partnership and forge several partnerships that push forward the development and innovation in the ICT sector.”

Can Open RAN deliver on its huge promise? Join the Total Telecom Congress in October for our exclusive panel Open RAN: Cutting through the hype? Moderated by Dean Bubley, Founder, Disruptive Analysis