Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened India’s first 5G testbed on May 17 and launched — along with US President Joe Biden — the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) at the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo a week later. This new initiative demonstrates that modern India’s digital technology will deliver trust and transparency, ensuring last-mile connectivity.
The Modi government considers the development of the 5G technology stack a key initiative with commercial launches of 5G networks planned for September across 13 cities in India. Enhanced mobile broadband is expected to be the initial main use case of this launch.
5G in India
Historically, telecom technologies have always been imported, but now India has successfully tested indigenous 4G and 5G calls.
5G testbeds have also been developed for testing technology and innovation. The IITs and a few other top technology institutes are rapidly building hardware and software for 5G technologies and using their campuses as testing facilities.
The Economic Times reported that the IIT Madras has displayed a video call on 5G networks built from scratch on its campus.
Minister Vaishnaw also recently tested a voice over new radio-backed video call placed on the institute’s 5G network.
The campus, according to its director V Kamakoti, will be 5G-enabled in another six to eight months.
At the same time, IIT Kanpur has developed a 5G base station, while at the IISc campus in Bengaluru, 5G networks are being used for training, research, and technology development. IISc is also purchasing commercial remote-head equipment to enable 5G hotspots on its campus.
HCL Technologies’ role in 5G
Realizing the transformative potential of digital connectivity, HCL Technologies began investing in 5G in 2016. To meet the fast-paced technology demands of the 5G ecosystem in the near future, HCL Technologies has invested significantly in training and lab infrastructure for IP development and has provided resources to enhance its partners’ 5G portfolio.
“Eight months in, the 5G lab is fully operational with multiple testbeds created for integration and validation of the partner ecosystem components. We have augmented the lab set-up with leading OEM and semi and hyper-scaler products as well. Additional 5G labs are set up in India and USA,” said Vijay Anand Guntur, President, Engineering and R&D Services, HCL Technologies.
5G O-RAN lab
In September 2021, HCL Technologies launched a 5G O-RAN (open radio access network) lab in India to enable global telecom industry players to transition to a 5G network.
The lab was built to help telecom service providers with multi-vendor options to move to a more open, intelligent, virtualized, and fully interoperable 5G mobile network that provides an enhanced experience to end-users. O-RAN architecture benefits include more market competition, customer choice, lower equipment costs, and improved network performance.
5G O-RAN systems help businesses transform their network capabilities and bring in opportunities to create new, immersive user experiences and services.
Commenting on how the labs and 5G testbeds are serving stakeholders, Guntur added: “Currently, we are delivering integration and validation services for a leading O-RAN OEM. We also leverage the lab setup for engagements with Telecom Service Providers and semi customers as well. We launched NOX (network function on-boarding exchange) service offering to onboard ecosystem partners network functions, test, and validate leveraging CI/CD and CT frameworks. We showcased this offering to our prospective customers and have recently been selected by a leading hyper-scaler customer for network functions onboarding and validation. Leveraging our ecosystem partnerships, we are also addressing the enterprise 5G solution requirements.”
Two new 5G applications
In March 2022, HCL Technologies launched two new 5G applications to help mobile network operators optimize customer experience and reduce energy consumption across their 4G and 5G infrastructure. HCL Technologies’ Quality of Experience (QoE) and Energy Savings applications are built on the HCL Augmented Network Automation (ANA) platform.
The HCL ANA platform is HCL Technologies’ next-generation network optimization solution that enables global mobile operators to effectively manage their 4G and 5G services by automating multi-vendor and multi-technology deployments in cloud or on-premises environments.
“Our telecommunications portfolio represents our multi-year strategy to develop innovative products for network operators and enterprises globally,” said Sukamal Banerjee, Corporate Vice President and Head of Industry Software Division, HCL Technologies.
“Many of the world’s largest mobile network operators have experienced how HCL’s innovative software products can optimize their networks and build a 5G world through next-generation AI and automation. As the industry continues to adopt the O-RAN architecture to unleash the power of 5G and beyond, HCL Tech is well positioned to support them with its innovative HCL ANA platform.”
HCL Technologies’ latest partnerships with VMware and IBM
- Integrated solutions for CSPs
In February 2022, HCL Technologies and VMware announced expansion of collaboration to deliver integrated solutions for service providers around the world. HCL Technologies will expand its CloudSMART portfolio of services powered by VMware technology to include support for VMware Telco Cloud – 5G Core and VMware Telco Cloud RAN.
In addition, HCL Technologies would set up a dedicated lab to streamline the deployment of these solutions across customers’ networks. HCL Tech operates VMware-enabled labs across the globe to support customer deployment of VMware solutions.
- CoE to help CSPs
In March 2022, HCL Tech- together with IBM -announced the opening of a center of excellence (CoE) that would help CSPs (communication service providers) modernize their network infrastructure, transform service delivery, and simplify operations. The center is a virtual hub to develop offerings designed to help telco clients transform their networks, including telco core, vRAN (virtualized radio access networks), ORAN, private networks, edge modernization, and 5G labs.
HCL Technologes will also leverage and deploy products in Telco Network Automation, like HCL SoFy, HCL ANA, Actian, HCL BigFix, and DRYiCE™ MyCloud to further accelerate network performance and streamline the transformation process for its clients.
The way forward
Implementing private 5G networks will revolutionize how businesses innovate and implement their operational ecosystems. This potential has made enterprise enthusiasm for private 5G higher than ever before.
Private 5G has the potential to emerge as the rightful natural successor to enterprise wireless.
According to the IDC, through 2024, the combined market for private LTE/5G infrastructure will grow at a CAGR of 43.4 percent to $5.7 billion.
5G products will play a crucial role in the entire value chain of industry transformation, chiefly driven by automation, cloudification, and virtualization.
HCL Technologies sees this transformation as a change agent for business models bringing new opportunities across industries.
In December 2020, HCL Technologies was recognized as a Leader in the first edition of Everest Group’s 5G Engineering Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2021 report. According to Everest Group, HCL Technologies is well-positioned to help clients with 5G transformations through its significant investments in innovation, partnership ecosystem, and delivery footprint.
“This recognition validates our investments in areas like 5G labs, IP, and our ability to adapt to changing business environments with a dedicated focus on driving innovation, reduced time-to-market services and cost-saving initiatives for clients,” said Guntur.
In terms of HCL Technologies’ 5G role moving forward, Guntur said: “We have established multiple 5G labs in USA and India.”
He added: “One of the labs in the US is in partnership with a leading hyper-scaler and MEC solution provider for enterprise 5G solutions. The other American lab has our semi and OEM products with a focus on private 5G network and domain- specific application development and validation. The 5G lab in India is also leveraged for building HCL solution accelerators such as 5G core network slice manager, service assurance, and predictive analytics solutions.”