Cellular network rates may soon become lower, thanks to a new technology. Currently, wireless carriers are dependent upon tech designed by companies such as Ericsson or Nokia. A more universal and potentially economical technology is in the works.
Vodafone has developed a new technology called OpenRAN with Intel, which combines the design of hardware and software, masts and antennae to create a better radio access network for mobile data and calls. This technology is expected to significantly lower the cost of accessing mobile data.
"OpenRAN improves the network economics enabling us to reach more people in rural communities and that supports our goal to build digital societies in which no one is left behind," Vodafone Chief Executive Nick Rand told Reuters on Sunday.
Vodafone, which is the world's second largest mobile operator, has presence in Europe and in countries such as South Africa, Turkey and India.
In Turkey, it has deployed the technology to deliver 2G and 4G networks to rural areas. Rand stated that the company will initially fast-track and deploy the technology in Europe.
Telecom operators are currently using kits from three companies – Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia, to deploy their networks. Since Huawei has been blacklisted by the US, the market is now increasingly dependent on just two companies.
The technology will also be rolled out in rural areas of the UK starting Monday. Next in line for the rollout are the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique.
However, even if this technology is rolled out globally, it does not necessarily mean that the benefits would reach the end-consumer. Since Vodafone has patented the technology, it may just be used increase the company's own profit margins or tie-up with other network operators. However, even in that case, it may be useful since it raises the possibility that the operators can go for wider coverage.
There will also be serious security concerns with open networks that will need to be addressed before final rollout. No country wants to land in a situation similar to Huawei in the US.