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Mavenir anticipates 5G contract once Vi secures funding

Mavenir expects to secure a significant commercial 5G contract from Vodafone Idea once the latter receives funding later this year.

“Our expectation is to get the contract [once Vi secures funding]. The way things are going with them validating our technology through trials and business cases…when you look at all these things together, things are positive, and we are positive and see an opportunity for Mavenir when Vi starts to invest in the network,” Sanjay Bakaya, country head India at Mavneir told Moneycontrol.

Bejoy Pankajakshan, executive vice president and chief technology and strategy officer at Mavenir, said India will help the company drive global volumes.

“India primarily comes from volume business. If you prove your tech in India, you can work anywhere. India has the lowest cost and highest ARPU. It also has extreme conditions in terms of temperature. If you get your product in the region, it is important. You can’t succeed in India if you don’t get large volume,” Pankajakshan told Moneycontrol in an interaction.

Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi), on February 23, said that its Open RAN network was carrying live commercial data traffic ahead of a planned large-scale deployment of its 5G network. It revealed that it was working with United States-based telecom gear maker Mavenir for this commercial phase of Open RAN network pilot deployment, which started in September 2023.

Vi still needs to meet minimum rollout obligations related to the 5G spectrum. It acquired spectrum in 3,300 MHz and 26 GHz 5G bands in the auction in 2022.

On January 30, Vodafone Idea said it will need 6-7 months to roll out 5G services after securing funding, for which discussions with investors are underway. During the company’s earnings call, the ailing telco’s CEO, Akshaya Moondra, said Vi was in talks with vendors for the 5G rollout and developing use cases.

The gear vendor also works with Bharti Airtel to deploy OpenRAN-based 5G equipment. It previously conducted trials for 4G and 5G Open RAN solutions on select sites in Haryana and Punjab.

OpenRAN, as a concept, enables hardware and software to be disaggregated, unlike conventional radio gears, allowing technology products from different suppliers to co-exist with the various software providers.

The technology is compatible with 2G, 3G and 4G services, as well as 5G, and allows more customisation of the network architecture and capabilities, creating opportunities for new business lines and improving customer experience, analysts said.

Pankajakshan said that Mavenir will meet the demand from Indian telcos from its manufacturing facility in Pune, which is already serving global markets.

“We already export out of India, which is the benefit of being able to scale. Once we do that, it helps us in many other regions. In 2023, we had limited units shipped, but in 2024, we expect a lot more volume from the Indian unit to Europe and other countries,” he said.

Mavenir aims to increase the shipments ten-fold to about 10,000 radios this year from its Jabil-run Pune factory. It has moved all the manufacturing of all the 4G and 5G radios to India, from Mexico and Florida.

Bakaya said there is a “huge inventory” of radios in India that telcos could look at replacing, offering an opportunity to Mavnir.

“Opex is huge for telcos in such cases, and replacing is a better choice. There could be reasons for refreshes that may be capacity-related or end-of-life product-related. It may cost more for you to keep running older radios than going for newer ones,” Pankajakshana added. Moneycontrol

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