Refurbished equipment is equipment that was in working condition within a live network.
It has been de-installed and is cleaned/tested before making it available for redeployment.
The equipment is not manipulated, opened up or changed in any way.
It is the original equipment of an OEM which is refurbished so that it can be redeployed again, saving the operator large amounts of OPEX and CAPEX spend.
Testing should be done against OEM specifications.
Repaired equipment is equipment that is assumed to be defective.
Generally it is repaired, either by the OEM or 3rd parties.
In more and more cases the defective is being swapped/exchanged for another part because:
- The repair is taking too long, in order to shorten lead times a pool of good parts is being created from where the swap/exchange can take place. The same serial number is not returned and often the swapped/exchanged part is from a different source.
- It is more cost effective to swap/exchange, as repair is more expensive. In this case a mix of repair and swap parts might be returned. If there is enough equipment available repair might not be needed anymore.
- The part cannot be repaired or is beyond economical repair. Examples are corrosion and burned Printed Circuit Boards, etc. The part needs to be replaced by a good one.
3rd parties and OEM’s are using refurbished equipment extensively today to supply swap/exchange parts.
OEM’s are known for taking de-installed equipment out of the field to use for the above reasons.
There are hardly any operators left who require ‘same serial numbers’ return because of the long lead times and inflexibility this gives.
Repair is technically more complicated than refurbishment, as parts have to be opened up and often relatively complicated component replacement processes have to be executed.
In both cases the testing is decisive to determine whether a part is functional within the OEM specifications and therefore whether a part can be redeployed.
The risk of deploying a part from 3rd parties that is tested carries no more risk than deploying a part from OEM’s (that may have also been refurbished).
Once the equipment is installed and working, it is another working part in the live network. Similar to parts that OEM’s supply, there is a small chance that parts are Dead on Arrival (DoA). In fact DoA numbers on new parts tend to be higher than on refurbished parts as the infancy problems that new equipment has, will not occur with refurbished equipment that has already shown to be working in a live network.
(Mobile) Telecom equipment has a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of typically 20 -50 years depending on OEM’s and type of equipment. This means that when a 12 months warranty is given a 2-5% failure rate can be expected.
The life time of Telecom equipment is 20-25 years. In Europe there is still quite some 2G equipment in networks that has been installed over 20 years ago and which is still performing strong. De-installed equipment has typically been functioning 5-7 years and is still good to be redeployed.
Therefore we do not see any reason why OEM’s wouldn’t take refurbished or repaired equipment under maintenance. It is their equipment and once working in the network, it is no different from the equipment that is already in the network.
Refurbished equipment is always supplied without any licenses:
- Right to Use Licenses
- Capacity Licenses
It is up to the operator to get these licenses and to determine whether the economic advantages of using refurbished equipment vs. buying new is beneficial.