News

NEC launches North American open RAN innovation hub

Mayuko Tatewaki NEC VP.jpg

Japanese equipment vendor NEC is taking its US-based acquisition, Blue Danube Systems, and turning it into an innovation hub for open RAN.

NEC bought Blue Danube in January 2022 for an undisclosed sum. Now it says it has created a North American 5G innovation unit in New Providence, New Jersey, to expand product development and cater to the growing global demand for open RAN solutions.

Mayuko Tatewaki (pictured), NEC’s senior vice president for 5G strategy and business since April 2022, said: “As the open RAN market rapidly grows, we need to expand our presence to achieve global goals.”

She added: “The industry shift to open RAN is a large undertaking – given our focus on providing solutions and system integration services, creating a home base for open RAN 5G resources in the US will help us better serve the global market.”

This follows a European development centre, set up in west London in late 2020. At the time NEC said this would address the North American market – but clearly things have moved on. It was set up after the UK government became concerned about the industry’s dependence on too few vendors, especially after Huawei and ZTE faced embargoes.

NEC has put in charge of the new NEC Advanced Networks unit, as it is now called, Rahul Chandra, who joined the group in 2020 to head global 5G corporate development and partnerships. NEC described him as “a long-time technology and business development leader in the telecommunications industry”.

Chandra said: “We have aggressive plans to deliver open RAN solutions all over the world – and bulking up our presence in North America helps customers by increasing our footprint in the western hemisphere and expanding our reach by leveraging the robust talent pool at our disposal.”

Chandra said the New Jersey unit “provides us a stable platform to build from as demand for open RAN-compliant products and solutions grows exponentially over the coming years.”

The company said that NEC Advanced Networks will drive developments in the radio unit business at first. It will “focus on spectrum optimisation and AI/ML-based massive MIMO products”, noting that the Blue Danube team has “significant expertise” in that area. “This hub expands NEC’s capabilities and will be a focal point for future expansion as the market matures,” said the company.

Tatewaki added: “NEC aims to be a global leader in open RAN 5G and we’ve recently made significant progress, building off several important project wins with Tier 1 operators in Europe, including key achievements with Orange and VMO2 [Virgin Media O2].”