Tech Mahindra may partner Reliance Jio to provide 5G solutions to world

TechM has been engaged with Bharti Airtel through US-based Altiostar. The firm recently sold its stake in Altiostar to Japanese 5G service provider Rakuten
As part of its aggressive foray into the 5G telecom network space, IT major Tech Mahindra (TechM) is open to collaborating with Reliance Jio, which has developed its own 5G network and plans to sell it globally. TechM said it does not see Reliance as competition but rather as an ‘expansion of the industry’ through partnership.

“The software capabilities that operators like Jio are building are likely to be offered to third party telcos…that provides a glorious opportunity for somebody like us, who are already doing a lot with operators worldwide, to tap these capabilities and integrate for these operators,” said Manish Vyas, president, communications, network media and entertainment and CEO network services.

Vyas said one of the things it offers a company like Jio is its footprint with virtually every telecom service operator worldwide outside of China. “That allows us to partner with different people who have the best Intellectual Property Rights in software. Our strategy is to be a continuous integrator,” he said. TechM has been engaged with Bharti Airtel through US-based Altiostar. The firm recently sold its stake in Altiostar to Japanese 5G service provider Rakuten. TechM is one of Altiostar’s largest software integrator partners.

Explaining his company’s strategy, Vyas said the new 5G technology is open and software-based and this is reflected in the launch of Rakuten 5G network services (the first open RAN network on 5G globally) which is based on the integration of multiple technologies.

“It means firms like us can provide integration capabilities based on open architecture which we can bring to the world,” said Vyas. TechM hopes to play a key role in being an integrator in markets like the US, the UK and Asia Pacific. It is also building software for network management and has started the process of registering for patents. Besides this, it will also build software for the 4G and 5G core and radios, customised for the needs of the operator.

The open RAN model, said Vyas, will help operators to disrupt the supply chain and provide telecom operators with more options to buy software and hardware rather than the traditional end-to-end providers such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei etc. This will substantially reduce operators’ costs due to more competition.    

A big opportunity is the BSNL 4G roll out. “The geo-political situation (the US-China trade battles) is a big trigger point for a lot of Indian firms who believe they have an opportunity. But what we need are one or two key anchor tenants to see how we can scale up from there. BSNL provides an interesting avenue to create an Indian-created technology,” said Vyas.

It expects some of the proof of concept for 4G networks based on indigenous technology will be tested by June-July; one is already under way. The trial for proof of concept of 5G network will happen once spectrum is available. Vyas admits they are challenges in building hardware capabilities in India. TechM has tied up with state-owned ITI to overcome the problems and is undertaking a lot of developmental activity with others for the design and eventual manufacturing of hardware components. The push also has the support of the government. “A lot of work needs to be done,” said Vyas. “But we will see a couple of world class Indian manufacturing firms. Already many foreign-owned manufacturing firms are making hardware in India so the supply chain, as well as the capability, already exists. Only the next stage of investment has to be made,” he said. Another major change has been that most global players have moved their R&D centres to India. In that sense, he feels, telecom technology is already Made in India.



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