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Cisco offering alternatives to Chinese gear, beginning with Airtel

Cisco is swapping telecom gear installed by Chinese gear makers at Indian telecom operators.

The company said that its strength in the enterprise domain allows it to be in a better position to help telecom operators to develop telcos-led enterprise use cases, the APJ President on Service Provider Business Sanjay Kaul said.

Cisco is currently working with Indian telecom operators like Bharti Airtel to explore enterprise use cases.

“We help customers [telcos] build the network, digitise their operation and work with the enterprise customers to grow their revenue. That’s our strength. Right now, we are in the testing phase with telcos on use cases, but we will make announcements at an appropriate time. We have gone to the next level with Airtel,” Anand Bhaskar, managing director, service providers, Cisco, India and SAARC said.

The company is also evaluating products that it is going to make through a contract manufacturer in India by leveraging the production-linked incentives scheme. This will be the third attempt by Cisco at “Make in India” in the last five year.

“We need alternatives to China and every large company has been dependent on China for manufacturing. We do manufacturing in Mexico and Malaysia. Strategically we want to do it as long as we have the ecosystem that’s ready to support. We are seriously looking at the third time in the last five years,” Kaul said.

He added that the ecosystem has to be built up as everything needs to come from outside. “It is a phenomenal opportunity. India needs to fast track to build up its ecosystem. Ecosystem needs to move much faster to India. It will be great to see India as a tangible alternative to Mexico, China and others.”

Cisco is also betting big on private 5G network opportunities in India. It believes that telecom operators are best suited to drive the deployment as they have an ecosystem around them. “Telcos will be orchestrating it towards the enterprise,” Kaul said.

Bhaskar said the company has started to get “trusted products” approvals from the designated authority, NCSC. “We are getting the approval on a case by case basis. We are taking guidance from telcos as they are the best judge of regulation,” Bhaskar said, adding that the company’s regulatory team works closely with telcos’ regulatory teams to seek approvals.

Kaul said that OpenRAN will be deployed at scale and 30% of networks globally will be shifted to OpenRAN in the next five years. “The reward is phenomenal.” Pehal News

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