CommScope Mosaic comes as a solution to the challenges of 5G rollouts. On the sidelines of the 5G MENA event, Raed Aoude, Director of Sales - MENAPAK & SEA, CommScope, enlightened Telecom Review of the 5G commercialization scene in the MENA region and how they are addressing the problems being faced by their partners on this matter.

Can you tell us about CommScope's participation in 5G MENA?

CommScope has been in the Middle East and North African region for decades. Our participation in 5G MENA complements the existing markets that we serve in this area. Mostly, we work with service providers and MNOs in MENA for their technology upgrade — from 3G to 4G and now 5G.

We are here to make sure CommScope fortifies its presence with our partners and customers in this region; getting to know their challenges and expectations, and to showcase the latest and greatest innovative solutions CommScope has on offer within this specific market as well as globally.

What is your outlook on the 5G commercialization in the MENA region? And what are the challenges behind this?

While some of the markets in the Gulf region have started their commercial deployments of 5G, we are seeing how other markets are still waiting for the spectrum allocation, mainly in North Africa. It will probably be mid-to-end of next year when we will see commercial 5G rollouts in this market.

In parallel, the big markets in the Gulf have already accomplished a great milestone by deploying 5G.  I would dare to say that they are the world’s leaders in terms of adopting 5G technology, considering what else to come and how to serve the different perspective of customers in this region.

There are common rollout challenges. Nevertheless, the advantages that 5G gives to the operators are huge. Following discussions and meetings with our partners, we concluded that one of the challenges was the use cases, such as how to monetize 5G. We see a lot of new verticals arising that will fix that type of challenge coming our way.

Private networks, AI, and IoT are coming into play which could relatively fill in those gaps. Site zoning and site-level infrastructure are also becoming a bit problematic because the number of spectrum bands and technologies added to the site is becoming huge. We still have 2G, 3G, and 4G, and a lot of those markets are now adding a new layer with new frequency bands for 5G. This is creating some challenges to the operators as well as the power consumption that this also brings on board.

Luckily, it's not the end of the world. There are available solutions that CommScope and other industry leaders are here to offer.

CommScope is introducing the Mosaic platform in the Middle East. How will this benefit the operators in the region? What other solutions do you offer to address operators’ challenges?

CommScope Mosaic comes as a solution to all the challenges we’re seeing on the level of 5G rollout. MNOs are faced by crowded tower tops due to the need to add more radios and elements on the site level on the tower, but the space requirements and the wind loading in those towers might not allow for that integration in a simple way.

CommScope Mosaic comes as a reply to those challenges in the market. It allows operators to integrate the passive and active elements of the frontend of the antennas in that perspective. In one platform, the same form factor will be used as the existing solution. Imagine, as an operator, you can integrate with 5G without the need to have an extra wind load or an extra form factor on the tower. And this was like a click of a button for them as this is what they need. This is how we move forward from here.

The simplicity of installation has a huge effect to the operators. When we discussed the CommScope Mosaic solution, everyone raised their hands and said they wanted to proceed with it because it is a cost-effective solution. Similarly, it is future-proof because some operators that are now looking at maintaining current network topology, while preparing for 5G, can slide in their 5G radios whenever the time comes within the CommScope Mosaic platform — without the need to touch their site tower top configuration for one more time.

Overall, the CommScope Mosaic is a new solution that will fix issues for the 5G rollouts now and in the future. If your 5G is one year down the line, you can make sure that the asset you are investing in right now is ready and capable to take 5G at a later stage.

What other trends would likely impact CommScope’s business strategy in the years to come, specifically in the MENA region?

One of the topics we have also discussed include Open RAN (O-RAN). We see this as something that will be one of the major ecosystem changers in the coming future. It's a buzzword, but there’s a lot of interest from the MNOs to see what the O-RAN can bring to the table. And this is something we are heavily engaged in with our partners in the industry — from software to O-RAN providers. We are also part of global groups like the O-RAN Alliance and Telecom Infra Project to make sure that there’s a seamless integration of the new technology in our markets in MENA.

I was also surprised to hear many of the MNOs talk about private networks. There is a good interest in private networks, whether that's going to be like a slicing of the existing networks or standalone networks. I think the market doesn't have the answer for that yet. The MNOs as well as the industry players are looking at ways to make it easily implemented and then integrate already on the current rollout.

Of course, other verticals that are a part of normal rollout are there to stay and grow like small cells, densification, capacity, etc. But, in my perspective, those two verticals are the newcomers to the ecosystem of the telecom industry.

Whether it’s Open RAN or traditional RAN rollouts, these will face the same challenge of the tower top crowded infrastructure: how can we fit more radios, nodes, and equipment in that tower without adding extra load, cost and complexity? The CommScope Mosaic fits that angle. Furthermore, when we talk about our indoor solutions (DAS and small cells), we’ll be opening our interfaces to cater network slicing of the Open RAN or private networks.

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