Etisalat and Parallel Wireless partner for O-RAN in Afghanistan

Etisalat and Parallel Wireless partner for O-RAN implementation in Afghanistan

Etisalat has collaborated with Parallel Wireless, Intel and Supermicro to deliver Central Asia’s first cloud-native O-RAN compliant 5G 4G 3G 2G Open RAN solutions in Afghanistan.

Mobile broadband penetration in Afghanistan has seen significant growth over the past years, hitting 22% in 2013 from 1% in 2013. While mobile broadband is still in its early stages of development, growth is expected in 2022.

However, with margins tight, operators in Central Asia need new strategies to cut CAPEX and OPEX. Hardware-defined 2G, 3G and 4G networks are both expensive to deploy and operate, and run the risk of vendor lock-in. Open RAN solutions are therefore an appealing prospect for operators in these regions and other emerging markets.

Parallel Wireless is providing Etisalat with Remote Radio Units (RRUs) that will allow the operator to replace legacy 2G/3G/4G systems with white box solutions that can be upgraded to 5G in the future. Additionally, its ecosystem offers easy scale-out and hardware decoupling for greater agility, resilience, and portability across cloud environments, reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) and facilitating rural coverage in remote areas.

Intel's 3rd Gen Intel Xeon scalable processors delivered in Supermicro's servers bring a future-ready architecture for a Distributed Unit (DU) and a Central Unit (CU), deployed at the network's edge. The virtual Baseband Unit (vBBU) resources can be shared among multiple RRUs on-site in multi-carrier 1-sector, 3-sector, or 6-sector configurations to achieve optimal resource pooling for TCO savings.

Amrit Heer, Director of Sales, Parallel Wireless, said, "While there is significant innovation happening, there are considerable gaps and challenges that make it difficult to deploy end-to-end Open RAN solutions, putting a heavy burden back on operators."