TIP Academy trains telecom workers on open RAN

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has launched TIP Academy, a new online platform to train telecom workers in new technologies such as open radio access networking (RAN). The platform was developed in collaboration with Accenture.

TIP Academy aims to relieve the global skills shortage in the telecom industry for professionals who work with open, disaggregated network techniques that use generic hardware and software from different vendors.

Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Accenture have signed up to be charter clients of TIP Academy, and the platform will be incorporated into their learning programs.

Santiago Tenorio, TIP’s chairman and network architecture director at Vodafone, said, “These technologies are new. There is no infrastructure to train.”

Tenorio said if he puts on his “Vodafone hat,” the service provider is deploying open RAN commercially in the U.K., and it’s going to scale that up to use open RAN in 30% of its European networks by 2030. “There are currently no skills when it comes to open RAN,” he said.

Putting on his “TIP hat,” Tenorio said, “This is actually not just a problem for Vodafone and operators, but it is extensive to suppliers, startups; they just lack the skills to participate in this.”

He said TIP is an ideal group to lead this effort because it’s already a meeting place for telecom industry players, including operators and vendors. “We probably have most of the industry that is active in disaggregation and open RAN.”

TIP Academy will be a business-to-business e-learning platform. Companies will be able to send their employees to the platform to acquire new skills. It is starting with the open RAN curriculum “because it’s the hottest at the moment,” said Tenorio.

TIP says its new open RAN curriculum will deliver the only comprehensive end-to-end training in the industry. It will include more than 20 modules, starting from the fundamentals to more advanced topics, such as open RAN system integration or TCO and business evolution. At the end of a curriculum, a learner will receive a TIP Academy certificate.

As more of the network gets disaggregated, TIP Academy will expand beyond open RAN. Tenorio said the program will give Vodafone “a way to train our own people; I think in the beginning we’re going to be the best customers of TIP Academy.”

Jefferson Wang, Accenture’s Global 5G and Networks Lead, said Accenture is involved “to evangelize to other players.” He said Accenture has about 700,000 employees. “We’re also using this to attract people to Accenture,” he said. 

TIP Academy will begin as an online learning program but will take advantage of TIP’s Community Labs at some point in the future.

Open RAN

Rakuten Mobile has already created a greenfield network using disaggregated technologies and open RAN. And Rakuten has created a new vendor — Symphony — to resell those technologies and learnings to other operators.

Asked why TIP Academy is necessary when operators could tap Symphony, Tenorio said, “The good thing about TIP doing this and putting our name is we’re neutral — operator neutral, vendor neutral, technology neutral. Rakuten has been pioneering one particular implementation of open RAN. There is probably a slightly different way to understand open RAN that the European operators have taken. That’s fantastic because you can have both.”