Japanese multinational information and communications technology company, Fujitsu is looking at the Indian Open RAN (Radio Access Network) market with interest. Vivek Mahajan, Chief Technology Officer, Fujitsu Limited told businessline that the Japanese MNC is in conversations with ten local vendors who they could potentially supply with radio equipment for their Open RAN network. 

Mahajan told businessline in an interview, “We are open to entering that (telecom market), with a partner, we just have not built a sales channel in India. That is probably a matter of time before we will, we are so busy in North America. Japan is probably leading the world in the advancement of 5G.”

On V RAN and Open RAN, Mahajan said, “Right now we see virtualisation of networks with V RAN and Open RAN, which will bring the cost of networks down. So we see a big opportunity in US, western Europe, and probably India.”

Open source network

Open RAN is an open-source network protocol which allows local manufacturers to skip the proprietary hurdles and develop and manufacture telecom network equipment. Indian vendors are seeing it as an opportunity to provide indigenous networks to telecom operators, breaking Nokia and Erricson’s duopoly on the supply of network equipment. Telcos across the world and even Indian telcos hope that by opening the network equipment market, they can bring down the costs of setting up telecom networks. Reliance Jio is developing its own indigenous 5G stack for that reason. The TCS-Tejas consortium setting up the 4G network for BSNL is also working with the Open RAN concept.

Looking at local vendors

Mahajan further added that Fujitsu is in conversation with around 10 Indian vendors. For the moment, Fujistsu’s model in India is going to be to partner with local vendors and drive sales there. “The thing with Open RAN is that, even if you virtualise the network, you still need radio units.” In this context, according to Mahajan, Fujitsu has the best radio units, “we are a bit more expensive because of our quality and functionality but we are good.”

Mahajan did not specify the exact names of the vendors who Fujitsu is speaking with, and neither did he give a timeline for when the partnerships with the Indian vendors will materialise. However, Japan’s interest in the Indian Open RAN ecosystem is a good sign for the prospects of the Indian Open Ran ecosystem. According to industry experts, Fujitsu also has partnerships with Rakutan Mobile, a Japanese telco which is wholly run on Open RAN.

“Fujitsu has been providing telecom network equipment since the 2G era. They certainly have the skills to excel in this space,” an expert said, adding that Fujitsu is likely talking to vendors such as Tech Mahindra and TCS.