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NTT Docomo and NEC Forge Joint Venture to Propel 5G Open RAN Expansion Globally

Targeting Southeast Asia and the Middle East, the partnership aims to disrupt the telecom industry's status quo, challenging the dominance of traditional giants
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Japan’s number one telco NTT Docomo is to spearhead a move into the global telecoms market with NEC Corp involving 5G Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) products to potential customers in the Middle East and Southeast Asia that appear ready to challenge the global domination of the likes of Ericsson and Huawei.

The potential Open RAN opportunity from NTT Docomo is the Open RAN initiative, under the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), to drive O-RAN specs and accompanying open source software into the industry.

The initiative is aligned with worldwide geopolitical moves to introduce more diversity and security into the telecom and wider IT industry supply chain, as US-China tensions grow. NTT Docomo says that it and a number of other global operators from the ORAN origination will announce the global O-RAN demonstration, although already operators such as StarHub (Singapore), Smart Communications (Philippines), and Ooredoo (Qatar) are in the frame for international trials with the telco to commercialize solutions by 2025.

The telco has also announced that Arm, Marvell, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have agreed to collaborate on Open RAN. It says their efforts will provide further power efficiency and advanced technology.

The joint venture company denotes Japan’s ambitious lead in the world to export a 5G network that is underpinned by the government’s policy to promote Open RAN for the purposes of economic security and freedom from dependence on singular suppliers.

It also signals just how quickly more than 150 mobile operators are moving to either test or deploy Open RAN solutions. The move will also have global implications, as the open networking market share is expected to grow substantially over the next few years.

NTT Docomo said the global trials can exploit the power of the virtualized RAN technologies as NTT Docomo and its technology partners work hard to turn NEC and other vendors’ RIC one-stop product strategies to collaboratively commercialize ORAN technology internationally.

The announcement was made at last night’s online MWC21 event in Barcelona. Docomo will follow up the announcement with an additional announcement and webinar in September.

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