The vendor has partnered with Brazil’s Telecommunications Research and Development Center (CPQD) to develop 5G Open RAN applications
Nokia is furthering its Open RAN ambitions with a new partnership with the CPQD in Brazil, aiming to co-develop new 5G use cases for the new technology. These new use cases include fixed wireless access (FWA), smart cities, IoT for Industry 4.0, and critical networks, all of which will be customised specifically to the needs of the Brazilian market.
“This important partnership will explore the potential for innovative 5G use cases that will have real-world value in Brazil across a range of different areas, such as smart cities and fixed wireless access. Our RAN Intelligent Controller will play a critical role in this research, helping to explore and trial new cutting-edge use cases that will put Brazil at the forefront in the 5G era,” said Ari Kynäslahti, Head of Technology and Strategy at Nokia Mobile Networks.
Compared to its contemporaries, Nokia has been noticeably more open to the concept of the vendor-neutral Open RAN technology and this move suggests that Brazil could prove an exciting market for 5G Open RAN development. This may be in contrast to other markets, such as Europe, where 5G rollouts are typically already underway in partnership with more traditional RAN vendors.
Nokia currently already does business with all three of Brazil’s largest operators, TIM Brasil, Telefonica Brazil, and America Movil, with the former two notable advocates for Open RAN tech.
Brazil’s 5G spectrum auction, like many around the world, saw numerous delays in 2020, and is set to finally take place some time in the first half of this year. Back in June, the regulator, Anatel, was urging the operators to launch 5G using their existing spectrum in the 700MHz, 1,800MHz or 2.1GHz bands. Telefonica’s Claro did just that, but TIM Brasil has and America Movil have yet to follow. This potentially bodes well for Open RAN – the longer the operators delay in launching commercial 5G, the more Open RAN tech will mature, becoming a more viable option for widespread deployment.
The Open RAN market itself is set to grow massively over the coming years, with ABI Research predicting the Open RAN radio unit market to be worth over $47 billion by 2026.
In somewhat related news, the start of this year saw the Brazilian government announced that it is planning to commission a 5G wireless network exclusively for its own use. This private network, limited to the Federal District, could open the door for Nokia’s rival, Huawei, in the Brazilian market once again.
Under pressure from the US, including an offer of $1 billion in financing, Brazil’s controversial president Jair Bolsonaro has been pushing for Huawei’s exclusion from the country’s national networks, but the wider government has yet to follow through, since Huawei is already a major player in most of Brazil’s major networks.
This private government 5G network itself could be supplied by Huawei, but it seems more likely that it will be provided by a different vendor. If the latter does come to pass and an alternative vendor does cater for the government’s private 5G needs, this could remove much of the sting from Huawei’s perceived national security risk, perhaps allowing the country’s operators to make use of them after all.
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