NEC goes international with its open virtualized RAN software suite

Japanese tech giant NEC has continued its Open RAN crusade with the introduction of its open virtualized RAN software suite to the international market.

Along with compatriot Rakuten, NEC is one of the companies being most proactive in offering Open RAN products, tools and platforms to the broader market. Its overall offering is called NEC Open Networks, of which this software suite would appear to be a core component. It focuses on virtualized central and distributed units (vCU/vDU) and claims to guarantee ‘seamless migration from 4G to 5G and beyond’.

“NEC is committed to being radically open, allowing customers to select the best solutions for their needs,” said Patrick Lopez, NEC’s VP of product management for 5G. “We’re giving our customers another option of a pre-integrated, automated vCU/vDU solution to define their RAN blueprints while benefiting from a virtualized Open RAN compliant system. The NEC OvRAN vCU/vDU software suite is built to bring operators into the cloud native world with no compromise on performance or quality.”

In a busy week for NEC’s PR department, the company also announced the creation of a North American 5G innovation unit. It’s called NEC Advanced Networks and is a product of the acquisition of Blue Danube Systems at the start of this year, which was described at that time as ‘a U.S.-based provider of CBRS/4G/5G RAN products and AI/ML-based software solutions that help mobile operators address the challenge of 5G network buildouts and spectrum optimization’.

“We know that the demand for Open RAN-compliant networks and solutions is going to continue growing,” said head of NEC Advanced Networks Rahul Chandra. “We have aggressive plans to deliver Open RAN solutions all over the world – and bulking up our presence in North America helps customers by increasing our footprint in the Western Hemisphere and expanding our reach by leveraging the robust talent pool at our disposal.”

Lastly, NEC has partnered with NTT Docomo and AWS to trial a 5G SA core in the hybrid cloud. We’re told it demonstrated an average of a 72% reduction in power consumption against incumbent x86 processors using NEC’s 5GC software running on AWS Graviton2 processors and Docomo’s on-premise NFV infrastructure. It’s notable that the press release read mostly as a piece of promotion for the AWS chip.

“We are delighted to announce that we achieved significant reduction of power consumption of 5GC thanks to NEC’s advanced, cloud-native 5GC software and AWS’s innovative and highly efficient Graviton2,” said Naoki Tani, CTO of the R&D Innovation Division of NTT DOCOMO. “We will continue the collaboration on the PoC with NEC and AWS for future delivery of environmentally friendly and disaster-resilient 5G network service to our customers.”


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