NEC opens facilities in three regions for 5G transport services

NEC is opening facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America to support next-generation transport services, including multi-vendor, for mobile operators.

The Centers of Excellence (CoE) focus on 5G xHaul, with partners from the open ecosystem contributing. NEC is acting as an integrator as transport needs continue to evolve, and said services cover operators’ transport from analysis and planning, through deployment and operation. Fronthaul, backhaul and midhaul collectively are sometimes known as “xhaul.” The NEC facilities also support validation and pre-integration testing.

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A universal lab is augmenting as a location to validate customer-specific vendor ecosystem environments.

In the open RAN ecosystem, operators like Rakuten and Vodafone have tapped NEC for radio unit expertise. But while the radio network gets a lot of love, 5G also means changes for transport, including backhaul, fronthaul and midhaul. The latter is a newer element for some transport networks, providing a link between specific disaggregated RAN components as cell sites are split in virtualized and open RAN environments. 

Some of the new requirements for 5G transport deal with low latency as well as increased reliability to support more devices and applications that go beyond mobile broadband for things like Massive Machine Type Communication.

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Operators can use a variety of transport technologies in 5G, and NEC aims to tailor services for different deployment scenarios based on service provider needs.

"Capitalizing on our strong global IP, optical and microwave expertise, NEC serves as a premier network integrator to deliver tailor-made services that match the unique requirement of each customer," said Mayuko Tatewaki, general manager of Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC Corporation, in a statement. "With the launch of 5G xHaul transformation services and our CoEs as the backbone, NEC will accelerate deployment of services offering to help CSPs enhance their networks."

In May, Dell’Oro Group reported 10% year over year growth during the first quarter in Europe and Middle East and Africa regions for the optical transport equipment market, while Latin America the Caribbean saw 15% growth.

Cisco has partnered with NEC on 5G IP transport, expanding a collaboration in April. Other ecosystem partners include Juniper, Adva, A10, Netcracker (an NEC subsidiary), Infinera, Accedian, and Fortinet. Last year NEC teamed up with Bharti Airtel and Altiostar to demonstrate Open Fronthaul based on O-RAN specifications.

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Nokia just opened its own collaboration and testing facility in the U.S. and open fronthaul is one of the initial focuses.

By centralizing domain expertise to provision xHaul services, NEC said it can help operators more easily transform transport networks to adapt on a granular level for 5G demands, alongside new services. The vendor also plans to support development of new solutions at the CoEs and says it can optimize TCO (total cost of ownership) for operators.

NEC already launched Centers of Excellence for Open RAN in the U.K. and India. Vodafone just tapped the Japanese vendor for O-RAN-compliant Massive MIMO radio units, as part of a large-scale open RAN deployment in Britain.