CEO and Co-founder Open RAN Vendor Parallel Wireless

INTERVIEW: Open RAN technology will be judged to have failed if it does not become the dominant means of constructing mobile networks within five years.

That’s the view of Steve Papa, CEO and co-founder of open RAN vendor Parallel Wireless (pictured), who told Mobile World Live “any RAN swap happening in five years from now will be with open RAN technology”.

Parallel Wireless is one of a number of start-ups developing fully virtualised network infrastructure. In an interview for our ‘Moving to a Future Software World’ Themed Week, Papa discussed the potential for consolidation in the sector, while noting three conditions must be met for his confident prediction to become a reality.

The required software required must be sufficiently far down and robust on 3GPP roadmaps; DU infrastructure must be made cost effective; and finally open RAN radios should be as, if not more capable “than what you get from the traditional vertically integrated vendors”.

M&A activity

While companies like Parallel Wireless have been driving innovation in the open RAN market so far, network giants including Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson have also all publicly backed the technology in recent weeks, revealing intentions to roll out their own solutions.

Papa, however, dismissed these moves as “token efforts”, stating it was just a way to show operators they are listening to them.

He believes big-name vendors will only get serious when the technology is deployed more widely, a move which could also put consolidation of smaller start-ups on the agenda.

“Every industry goes through its moments of consolidation. In the long run, I think it’s absolutely likely one of the big incumbents will end up acquiring some open RAN company,” Papa declared.

Click here to watch the full interview