Huawei’s Loss is Competitor’s Gain

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Bans against Huawei technology have created opportunities for other vendors to thrive, reports Yahoo Finance. Industry insiders had predicted that Ericsson and Nokia would swoop in to conquer the base station sector vacated by Chinese telecom Huawei, but instead, new players have appeared to stake their claims. Qualcomm and Altiostar Networks Inc. have been among the first to enter the base station market.

“This could break up that tech vendor lock-in that’s been around for decades,” said Andre Fuetsch, AT&T’s Chief Technology Officer of Network Services. “It’s about how do you create a much more competitive, innovative ecosystem.”

When it had control over all aspects of the delivery system, Huawei would simply order more base stations when the need arose. Modules from different companies were not cross-compatible, so no other vendor could supply a replacement base station. However, new base station models operate on an Open Radio Access Network, or O-RAN, basis allowing communication across company lines. The increased flexibility makes the potential market much more appealing to suppliers, who are not locked into working with just one vendor.  

“Increased geopolitical uncertainty is helping them to get an invite to the table they would not normally have had,” said Dell’Oro Group analyst Stefan Pongratz. “Multiple vendors, not just in Europe but across the world, are basically reassessing their exposure to Huawei,” reported Yahoo Finance.

Not all companies are eager to adopt an O-RAN format. Some, like Ericsson, question the performance and cost-efficiency of O-RAN products. Start up companies like Altiostar look at O-RAN as a ground floor opportunity to jump into the telecom business. Other established companies are joining the party, but arriving at a slower pace. 

“O-RAN is supported by more than 20 major operators around the world, so it is pretty clear that there is a strong push for it to happen,” said Sando Tavares, Global Head of Marketing at Nokia. “This is a big move for our industry, and it is clear for the main players that we should not be cutting corners in this process.”  

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