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Abhijit Chaudhary, Founder at Niral Networks

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Abhijit Chaudhary: While working closely with Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in previous projects, the Niral team understood the challenges faced by them due to Vendor Lock-in, the proprietary solutions are rigid that leads to slower time to market and higher total cost of ownership. It is predicted that 5G Networks needs to be 10X denser than 4G Networks. Denser networks would require devices from more vendors leading to further risk of vendor lock-in.

MNOs understand the risk of vendor lock-in and are fast transforming from traditional and proprietary solutions to openness and disaggregation. Most operators have set up their own Research and Development arm to have better control over their Vendors, Products, and Costs.

Niral Network’s co-founding team has a combined experience of more than 70 man-years in the Telecom and Networking Industry in India. They have rich product experience in Telecom, Data Center, and Enterprise verticals. The team has worked closely with customers in the US, India, Europe, Australia, Middle-East, and South-East Asia. They have co-founded multiple startups in the US and India and co-authored numerous patents and technical publications in the area of computer networks.

After multiple deliberations with customers, the Niral team came up with the concept of NiralOS. NiralOS is an Network Operating System for private 5G and Edge with open interfaces that helps customers to transition from Vendor Controlled to Customer Deliberated approach, thereby reducing the time to market and lower the total cost of ownership.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Niral Networks ?

Abhijit Chaudhary: Niral Networks provide a comprehensive cloud-native 5G Edge networking platform for Enterprises using its open and disaggregated Network Operating System called NiralOS that can be easily integrated to third party Edge applications and managed from a centralized dashboard without the need of any specialized IT staff.

Niral Networks cloud-native 5G & Edge solution for Enterprise is targeting the USD 517 Billion private 5G + Edge market for faster, low latency, reliable connectivity with mobility that would accelerate the use of emerging technologies like IoT, Drone, Robotics, AI/ML, AR/VR, thereby redefining the way people live and work in oil & gas, mining, ports, manufacturing. Niral Networks aims to provide a private 5G & Edge platform as a Service (5GaaS) to redefine the future of Enterprise Connectivity by making private 5G as ubiquitous as WIFI.

NiralOS is a network operating system for Private 5G & Edge and contains 3 key components:

  1. Niral 5G Core - Cloud-Native Private 5G SA core for enterprises that contains 5G functions - AMF, SMF, AUSF, NRF, UPF, PCF, UDM and integrated with various 5G Radio OEMs. Niral 5G core contains a compact UPF for local breakout when integrated with TSP Network.

  2. Niral Edge Platform - Kubernetes and Virtualized infrastructure to create a Mobile Edge Cloud (MEC) using existing commodity servers and open APIs to host various applications like IOT, Robotics, Drones, IMS, AR/VR for low latency, high bandwidth, mobility and privacy.

  3. Niral Controller - Centralized management, orchestration, zero touch provisioning & monitoring of multi-site Private Network and On-premise Edge Cloud. The controller can be hosted in a data center to centrally manage & monitor multiple private networks.

Niral 5G Core runs on commodity servers and is integrated with 5G radio from various OEMs to create Private 5G Networks. Applications like Drone, Robotics, IOT can be easily deployed on Niral Edge Platform and remotely managed using Niral Controller.

Great Companies: What makes Niral Networks different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Abhijit Chaudhary: While most vendors are focused on connectivity by adding more and more hardware, radio that leads to higher CAPEX, more space, more power and higher OPEX. Niral Network's approach is to reduce the number of HW/Radio, cost, space and go greener by creating a single private 5G and on-premise Edge Cloud to connect the unconnected or under connected area using a single private 5G Network infrastructure that can be used by all the Mobile Network Operators(MNOs) to extend their coverage. A single Private 5G Networks to be used by all MNOs instead of each MNO putting their own 5G Network will result in less HW/Radio, cost, space and help in developing a greener 5G infrastructure that is easier to manage.

Niral Private 5G and Edge Cloud uses a zero-trust architecture to connect with each MNOs 5G Network and guarantee that MNOs Network does not get compromised by the Private 5G Network. Niral Private 5G & Edge platform provides Seamless communication and application experience locally even if the connectivity with the Internet is lost.

Niral SDN Controller is used for centralized provisioning and management of Private 5G and the on-premise Edge Cloud using a single dashboard with the click of a couple of buttons making it simple to manage and diagnose the end to end Enterprise use cases.

Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Abhijit Chaudhary: Setting up an end-to-end Private 5G Infrastructure needs collaboration with various ecosystem players, thus, has multiple challenges. The good part is we are able to overcome those challenges one by one and make steady progress.

  1. We are awaiting clarity on the allocation of 5G spectrum to Enterprise. Due to unavailability of 5G spectrum for Enterprise Captive Networks in India, on-going 5G POCs within Enterprises are happening on the experimental spectrum being allocated by the Government, which is slowing our deployment pace.

  2. There are limited options of 5G radio at this moment and cost is also high. We expect to have better supply by the 3rd quarter of 2023.

  3. Long-cycle time to close business partnerships with Mobile Network Operators , Internet Service Provider, Data Center Provider and System Integrators that can scale the deployment of Enterprise 5G.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Niral Networks?

Abhijit Chaudhary: Globally the 5G and Edge market is growing at a CAGR of around 40% and the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for the five verticals (Manufacturing, Healthcare, Transportation, Environment Monitoring and Gaming) is $517 billion dollars as per KPMG report.

The Service Addressable Market (SAM) for Private 5G and Edge software is around 25%, i.e.$130 billion dollars. Niral Networks is looking at a Service Obtainable Market (SOM) of $10 billion dollars.

Niral Networks will provide the Private 5G and Edge Cloud Platform to end customers through our channel partners who would take care of the deployment and system integration. We are doing multiple paid POC of our private 5G and Edge Cloud Platform, and looking to start deployment in FY 23-24. We are also targeting the overseas market in Asia and Europe in the next financial year. As we grow our global partnership, a significant portion of our revenue will be from partners that includes system integrators, infrastructure/neutral host providers, edge data center providers and mobile network operators that would include perpetual license and subscription revenue.

In around five years time, Niral Networks would provide private 5G & Edge Infrastructure as a Service (5GaaS) and charge subscription revenue annually.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Abhijit Chaudhary: It is a great time for deep tech startups in India. This decade is to build ATMANIRBHAR deep tech products and take them to global markets. Government has various funding schemes for such startups through MEITY and DOT.

DOT has funds through DCIS and TTDF scheme to fund upto INR 10 Crore or more. Infact, Niral Network has been a beneficiary of multiple grants from DOT.

Various VCs are investing in Telecom, Quantum, Satellite, AI/Analytics startups. Various Enterprises and PSUs have startup Incubation programs to enable paid pilots of deep tech technologies for internal use.

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