Open RAN: A Big Opportunity For Enterprise Connectivity
Automation has been the main focus of the industry, enterprises ought to automate repetitive tasks to enhance workforce efficiency. In recent years, industries such as manufacturing and warehousing have started to adopt autonomous technology in their factory, aiming to improve staff productivity by replacing manual works with machines. However, lack of reliable, seamless indoor coverage and guaranteed services are the major pain points that holding back their plans, generating demands of private networks.
Cost is one of the biggest challenges to build a dedicated enterprise network
Private wireless networks is an end-to-end mobile networks solution for enterprises comprising a dedicated core network (physically or logically), transport network, base station, and antenna. Although some network functionalities can be provided via slicing, a dedicated RAN network is an essential requirement, Nevertheless, a RAN network could take up more than half of the total cost in a mobile network.
In traditional RAN, mobile network operators (MNO) are struggling with a limited pool of equipment vendors and weak bargaining power when choices are only few. While Open RAN's concept of openness and disaggregation would invite more vendors to the ecosystem and offer a low total cost of ownership (TCO). Other than that, short time-to-market to introduce new services into the network also attract MNO's interest.
Open RAN for enterprise network
The main concern from MNOs is whether Open RAN can offer the same network features as the incumbent network equipment provider (NEP), the capabilities of the network management system, and network performance when traffic arises. Addressing this MNOs would consider using Open RAN technology in greenfield deployment  to assess its capability and performance in the first phase, and the adoption for private network solutions will come next to enjoy the full benefits of the new technology.
When applying to a private enterprise network, Open RAN could be a possible approach owing to the lower traffic and less stringent network KPI in an enterprise network compared to a public network, assuming enterprise focusing more on the usability of the application. Thanks to the large pool of ecosystem suppliers, vendors and system integrators (SI) of Open RAN, operators have the flexibility to mix-and-match from the most competent vendors. Additionally, there are enterprise SI who are well experienced with the necessary knowledge and understanding of the implementation challenges in private network deployment. Their expertise will definitely improve the overall delivery experience.
As the demand of private network rises, there are new business opportunities which can help operators monetize their investment in spectrum and network infrastructure. To enable new use cases and services with minimum equipment and energy-efficient installation footprint, especially in 5G, Open RAN can be a future-proof, cost-efficient solution for operators to penetrate into this new market and maximize the annual return on investment (ROI)
 Reference: Open RAN: ready for prime time? The operators' perspective, Analysys Mason, Apr 2021
About KekSeng Mun
KekSeng Mun has been working in the telecom industry for over 10 years with rich experience in in-building DAS design, RF planning, and optimization. Mr. Mun is currently the Assistant Manager at Comba Telecom, responsible for In-building design and technical marketing support for Comba’s global business.