Etisalat launched an open virtual access network

Starting in 2020, Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat became the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) to build and launch an open virtual access network (Open vRAN) and partnered with Ribbon Communications for cloud-based business communication and collaboration.

By supporting Open vRAN technology, Etisalat is confident that it will be able to accelerate the delivery of mobile networks as the technology will provide the basis for its wireless infrastructure of the next generation.

The approach to vRAN architecture decouples the programmable RAN software elements from the hardware, allowing the RAN software to be processed by generic hardware, generic preprocessor and server platforms.

The operator said this led to flexibility, scalability, agility, and energy-efficient networks being deployed by reducing the network’s hardware elements. An open vRAN approach is said to reduce time to market as it is faster than traditional deployment methods to deploy mobile networks.

Additionally, by simplifying nodes and enabling new automated methods and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, increasing and optimizing network capacity is enhanced.

By using third-party commercial off-the-shelf hardware (COTS), Etisalat said it is converting its network from hardware to software-based hardware. It is said that the program incorporates scalability enhancement and virtual networks achieved through the integration of equipment from different suppliers, and Etisalat cited the successful introduction of the platform as the fruits of a partnership with partners Altiostar, NEC, Cisco and other vRAN technology suppliers.

“Continuing with Etisalat’s strategy of’ driving the digital future to empower societies,’ the deployment of Open vRAN is vital in enabling digital transformation aimed at increasing the efficiency and use of AI,” said Saeed Al Zarouni, senior vice president of Etisalat’s mobile network.

“This announcement is in line with the goals of the UAE[ United Arab Emirates] to achieve digital transformation through the introduction of best-in-class technologies. Etisalat is now planning to roll out Open vRAN across the UAE to take full advantage of all the benefits offered by this new technology.

Etisalat also unveiled what it called a first-of-its-kind cloud-based unified connectivity and collaboration service, CloudTalk, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprise customers in the UAE, as it was making its Open vRAN announcement.

Teaming with Ribbon Communications, Etisalat said it is now able to provide a stable, scalable, and cloud-based business communication and collaboration network for customers. CloudTalk provides SMEs with an integrated connectivity solution for their internal and external communication and collaboration needs, helping with their digital transformation plans.