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NEC is a Platinum Sponsor for the Telecom Review Summit's 16th edition. David Cohen, head of global marketing – 5G solutions at NEC, shares the company’s goals, its 2022 highlights and its leadership commitment moving forward.

NEC is known for its relentless pursuit of innovation. How is this reflected in the goal of providing better products and services?

We believe innovation in the telecoms industry depends on collaborative ways of working. Openness must be about more than just creating open solutions but also making them available for use by the rest of the industry. NEC Open Networks embraces openness in its technology and the way it does business. Our customers are our partners, and our partners are our collaborators.

NEC’s open approach to Open RAN is changing how we think about networks. It gives operators the freedom to innovate and take full advantage of emerging use cases by bringing together best-of-breed technologies at any point in the ecosystem. NEC Open Networks doesn't restrict access to cherry-picked solutions from a select few vendors as part of its system integration capabilities. When we say we're radically open, we mean it.

Our innovation centers in Europe, North America and Asia provide customers with the perfect environment to create the right solution in the right market. And our trusted local systems integrators have the expertise needed to navigate the complexities of regional supply chains and support customers at every step of the journey.

Empowering lives through connectivity, how will NEC continue to impact the digital transformation of its customers?

5G is creating exciting opportunities to enrich every aspect of the way we live, work and play. NEC is committed to creating a better 5G future for all, which means a commitment to openness, collaboration and community building to achieve this collective goal.

Operators around the globe are accelerating 5G deployments to enhance coverage and network capacity in a wide range of environments, including dense urban areas with high-rise and/or mid-rise structures, rural areas, broadband hotspots and enterprises. NEC constantly expands its portfolio to serve global customers operating in most bands and network configurations and addresses the overall RAN market within an open multivendor ecosystem.

To deliver on the promise of 5G, operators need to cloudify their networks — and Open RAN, by its very nature, is cloud native. A cloud-native network will provide greater innovation and competition, enabling the industry to react more quickly to challenges and adapt better to the potential opportunities of a 5G world. It also allows operators to scale in and out to improve performance and power consumption based on their specific needs at a given time.

As a systems integrator and technology vendor, NEC is there with its customers at every step of the journey. We have the experience needed to build the right solutions in the right environment. NEC's systems integrators offer the local expertise and knowledge of local supply chains needed to deliver solutions tailored to regional and sector market dynamics.

We're committed to the principles of openness because we believe it gives our network operator customers the best chance to capitalize on the enormous promise of 5G and stay a step ahead of the demands of our increasingly connected world. This commitment means more than simply agreeing upon new technical standards; it means a company-wide understanding that we are open to any business possibility that improves customers’ likelihood of success.

What are the company's highlights in 2022, and how will this influence NEC's strategic roadmap for the coming years?

NEC was awarded a Bronze Badge from the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) for complying with the requirements for TIP's OpenRAN RU Technical Requirements Document 2.1. TIP is comprised of hundreds of companies, including service providers, technology suppliers, systems integrators and more, who collaborate to ensure the proliferation of open, disaggregated and standards-based solutions to deliver global connectivity and fully realize the potential of a connected world.

In September, NEC created NEC Advanced Networks, 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. At first, NEC Advanced Networks will drive developments in the Radio Unit business, focusing on spectrum optimization and AI/ML-based massive MIMO products. This hub expands NEC’s capabilities and will be a focal point for future expansion as the market matures.

Adding resources in the Eastern US helps us serve our customers better and work closely with our ecosystem partners. It also provides a stable platform to build from as demand for Open RAN-compliant products and solutions grows over the coming years.

Virgin Media, NEC and Rakuten Symphony also announced their joint multi-vendor Open RAN deployment is entering the field phase, commencing with activating the first live sites in Virgin Media O2's commercial network. This successful multi-vendor Open RAN system deployment on macro-sites in the UK is notable for being in a brownfield network and baselined on the existing Telco Cloud supply chain to maximize future synergies.

These first live Open RAN macro-sites in Virgin Media O2's network are possible after extensive testing at NEC and Rakuten Symphony's labs in India and NEC's Global Open RAN Centre of Excellence lab in Ruislip, London. The facility, equipped with state-of-the-art testing equipment, follows NEC's design quality assurance process to efficiently integrate, test and validate multi-vendor solutions before any field deployment. The Virgin Media O2 Open RAN deployment aligns with the UK government's efforts to diversify future telecom supply chains, recognizing Open RAN's importance in safeguarding security, resilience, innovation and competition in critical national infrastructure.

NEC has also built a 5G Innovation lab for the NSW Telco Authority in Australia. The new 5G innovation lab, announced in October 2022, will provide an environment where the NSW Telco Authority and public safety agencies can explore new technologies, prove interoperability and push the boundaries of mobile technology in the context of Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) applications.

From your perspective, which industrial use cases will go big, and how will NEC's leadership in IT and network technologies leverage these opportunities?

NEC has considerable experience already building private 5G networks for industrial applications in Japan. We believe that the use of 5G to connect and automate the activities of manufacturing operations is one of the biggest opportunities on the horizon.

The use of autonomous vehicles and robotics in the management of manufacturing operations has boomed in the past several years. NEC’s expertise in AI/ML helps customers establish automated workflows that enable humans and autonomous devices to work together safely and efficiently in an environment that is continually optimizing based on data.

As the global leader in advanced recognition systems, NEC uses this technology to create workflows that are constantly gathering and analyzing data to improve performance. 5G connectivity enables the real-time sharing of this data to improve manufacturing efficiency and productivity.

As a Platinum Sponsor of the Telecom Review Summit's 16th edition, how will NEC represent the importance of "orchestrating a brighter world" in the ICT sector?

NEC is committed to developing solutions that improve how people live, work, and communicate. This dedication is reflected in the company's principal branding of “orchestrating a brighter world.” This conveys NEC's overall mission as a global leader in information communications technology to provide Solutions for Society. Based on NEC's computing, network, and software competencies, these solutions aim to ensure safety, security, and operation efficiency and enable people to live richer, more fulfilling lives.

Technology is altering almost every aspect of our existence. Whether it is how we work, communicate or entertain ourselves, the tools and services [derived] from technical advances permit us to live more fulfilling lives and allow us to work smarter and more efficiently. This ability to transform and improve is also helping to solve some of our most pressing social and economic challenges. NEC remains committed to bringing together our best-in-class integrated technology and expertise to create tomorrow's information communications technology-enabled society. Every day, our innovative solutions contribute to greater safety, security, efficiency and equality, and allow people to live richer, more fulfilling lives.

Backed by 117 years of experience and innovation, NEC knows what it takes to evolve to meet changing technology and enterprise demands. This capability to leverage decades of award-winning technologies enables NEC to deliver integrated information and communications solutions that create social value through problem resolution and bring new value to people, businesses and society.

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