by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – THE 5G Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) technology is hailed as holding huge promise for business growth in Africa.
It is lauded for enabling network operators to now focus capital expenditure (capex) on competitively priced open-standards equipment rather than proprietary gear.
This is the projection of leading African integrator of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, NEC XON, which has broken ground in Africa’s quest for 5G ORAN.
ORAN enables mobile operators to open the RAN network and use multi-vendor solutions.
“It enables attractive savings of about 40 percent on capex and 30 percent on operating expenditure (opex),” said Willem Wentzel, head of Wireless at NEC XON.
He noted ORAN can also be deployed in two to three days instead of up to nine months.
“But the realities of Africa mean that 5G ORAN will initially be limited to private corporate networks in industries like mining, manufacturing and industrial where large campuses are common.”
Wentzel projected public ORAN networks would likely remain on 4G for the moment, given the level of investment in existing infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of 5G handsets for consumers.
Private 5G ORAN networks is forecast to break the ice and help bring down unit costs for the public market.
Wentzel disclosed NEC XON is currently bringing proof-of-concept kits into Africa for three clients in these industries.
“The ability to privatise 5G ORAN will enable machine-to-machine (M2M), business to business (B2B) and push-to-talk communication on campus, or anywhere in the country (or the world) on a company site using a phone app,” he said.
To date, most of these campus applications used WiFi because it was the only tech feasible to use given that all 4G spectrum has been allocated on a national level to monopolistic mobile network operator players, according to the expert.
He added that due to its reliability in design, 5G ORAN guaranteed low latency and enables remote operation of both business-to-business and machine-to-machine processes.
The mining industry is particularly hungry for low latency networks that enable control of machinery, reduce the risk of human injury and increase productivity.
NEC XON has also invested in network assurance with its acquisition of Aspire, whose solutions can monitor and display the performance of the network, highlight any weak points and optimise network usage on any vendor’s solution.
The solution also extends to any industry with a campus environment and can cover multiple dispersed campuses, according to the technology company.
– CAJ News