Open standards to displace telecoms suppliers, says HPE

Open standards ‘will displace traditional network suppliers’, says HPE’s Mottram

10 March 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Mobile operators will be able to build 5G networks without using any kit from Ericsson, Huawei or Nokia, a senior executive from HPE, a rival supplier, said today.

Capacity asked Phil Mottram, who runs the communications business at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), whether it would be possible to build a 5G network without using the big three traditional network equipment providers. “Absolutely,” said Mottram, a former Telstra, Vodafone and then Zayo executive, who joined HPE a year ago as VP of the company’s communications division.

Mottram (pictured) was launching HPE’s 5G product and service portfolio, designed to use open-source equipment and software.

Mobile operators have been locked in to the major suppliers, he claimed: vendors that saw each generation as an opportunity to build on previous sales and upgrade telcos from 2G to 3G and then 4G.

“But when operators came up with the 5G standard they saw the opportunity to break the stranglehold of the network equipment providers and use different suppliers,” he said at the presentation in London.

End-to-end 5G networks will be focused on enterprise, he added, “and they will be all about openness for new services”.

The industry is already moving towards open standards for the radio access network (RAN), with initiatives such as OpenRAN and the O-RAN Alliance. Last month the O-RAN Alliance and the Facebook-backed Telecom Infra Project (TIP) agreed to work together to develop interoperable open Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions.

But now, he said, vendors are seeing the opportunity for open standards in the core, too, offering the opportunity for HPE and other non-traditional suppliers to develop cloud-native 5G core services.

HPE is planning a pay-per-use model to encourage operators to move to 5G for enterprise customers: the telcos would pay HPE only when they signed up new 5G customers, said Mottram. “We can knock on the door of operators and charge them as they use the services, as they see money from 5G customers.”

Marc Waters, the company’s managing director for the UK, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa, said this was “manage, meter and bill” for each new user. “It’s not a standard leasing model.”

Do open standards mean the three traditional network equipment giants are doomed? “That’s not for me to say,” said Mottram. “This is a great opportunity as 5G is open.”