Parallel Wireless fetes open RAN field trial in Brazil

In Brazil, Parallel Wireless is working with four network operators – Vivo, Claro, TIM and Brisanet – on an open RAN field trial, along with Inatel - National Institute of Telecommunications in Brazil and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP).

The field trial will enable leading-edge 4G and 5G broadband communications throughout Brazil and other Latin American countries, according to Parallel Wireless. Inatel – National Institute of Telecommunications is an educational, research and technology development center in Santa Rita do Sapucai, southern Minas Gerais, also known as “Electronic Valley.” It was the first institution of higher education in telecom engineering in Brazil.

Parallel Wireless, based in Nashua, N.H., already has a number of deals in the works with the likes of IpT in Peru and Tigo in Colombia, providing further evidence that the open RAN movement is building in the region.

Parallel is acting as a main system integrator and providing its distributed unit (DU)/central unit (CU) and aggregator software, according to VP of Marketing Eugina Jordan. The field trial is targeting services and applications for both consumers and businesses.

Considering Parallel’s history of emphasizing all the “Gs” in wireless technologies, it’s no wonder that this one involves providing an open RAN network enabling 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. They’re using Band 7 for the trial, which correlates to the 2600 MHz band. 

“We are excited to partner with Inatel and TIP to showcase our leading-edge cloud-native, O-RAN compliant, Open RAN solutions enabling 4G and 5G broadband connectivity, providing leading edge applications for the citizens of Brazil and other LATAM countries,” said Russell Ribeiro, regional VP LATAM Sales at Parallel Wireless, in a statement. “We are starting this Open Field program with 4G and will evolve to 5G later this year. We believe this program is a very good showroom for MNOs throughout Latin America to come and see our platform in operation in a real field environment.” The field trial includes solutions from Comba and Dell Technologies.

Parallel has a fairly long history of working with TIP, starting back in 2016. One of its first engagements was with Vodafone in Turkey; many others followed, such as the Innovation Lab in Indonesia, according to Jordan.

TIP was set up in early 2016 as mobile network operators were frustrated with a lack of innovation in a highly concentrated/closed ecosystem and high costs in the telecom equipment sector, she said. The Open RAN TIP group brought together operators, traditional equipment vendors and start-ups that are using open source technologies and open approaches.

Elsewhere, Parallel Wireless is moving full steam ahead while keeping a close watch on how operators address open interfaces in their vendor contracts. Because Parallel always has been involved in “all the Gs,” it’s not just concerned with greenfield operators.

“Greenfield 5G is a lot easier in a sense that you’re not benchmarking it to an existing network,” Parallel Wireless co-founder, CEO and Chairman Steve Papa told Fierce in a recent interview.  

With brownfield, it’s a matter of “how well do you meet these 20 KPIs” relative to an established vendor like Ericsson, he said. Parallel Wireless can now say that it’s meeting a long list of KPIs, or key performance indicators, he said.

The KPIs are comparable to the legacy vendors, and it’s been a long journey, but “we’re doing it,” he said.

Even though 5G is all the rage in the U.S., it’s not the dominant technology in every network in the world. There’s a lot of 2G and 3G out there, and in some countries, 40% of the phones can’t do VoLTE calls, he noted.

Meanwhile, Parallel employs about 850, according to its LinkedIn data, and it’s continuing to add more. In Latin America, it has a presence in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Peru.

“It’s never ending what you need to do to build these comprehensive solutions,” Papa said. “We’ve been growing. We’re investing heavily and we’re seeing the results.”