Open RAN Enables Innovation And Flexibility For Future Networks
For the last four decades, the wireless industry has been on its quest for enhancements in wireless networks and services. The RAN architecture has been opened in standardization for some time, but de facto interpretation and missing pieces have raised the stakes in the entry barriers. Open RAN has emerged as a promising path to lower that entry barrier by adopting an open technology model.
The disaggregation of hardware and software with open interfaces gives mobile operators flexibility and agility to cooperate with different vendors. Open RAN is reaching maturity. According to Dell’Oro Group, “the total cumulative Open RAN revenues projects to approach $10 B to $15 B between 2020 and 2025, accounting for 10% of overall revenues by 2025.” 
The evolution of wireless communications standards from 4G to 5G denotes a new benchmark for spectrum efficiency, latency, coverage, capacity by utilizing advanced modulation methods, algorithms, processing capacity and more. Open RAN architecture helps operators achieving significant operational gains with its non-proprietary communication interfaces among RAN components.
Open RAN-based neutral host architecture and business model have opened new ways for improved coverage. It permits the industry to adopt the advanced Open RAN technology in a smaller scale cost effectively. The open interfaces enable vendor diversity and provide scalability for operators to upgrade their networks to 4G/5G cost-effectively.
Despite Open RAN’s need to support LTE and 5G NR development, GSM and UMTS network systems are still relevant to worldwide legacy applications and regulatory requirements. Today, operators face the challenges of minimizing CAPEX and OPEX, including new investment and striking balance between energy and operational efficiencies. Power consumption performance and multi-RAT multi-band support in radios are key for operators to effectively execute their open network transformation. With enhanced RAN equipment, solutions supporting GSM/UMTS continue to play a role while developing the LTE/5G NR networks.
With the maturity of hardware and software open interfaces, Open RAN is poised for larger-scale implementations in macro networks. Multinational operators have incorporated Open RAN solutions in their network development plan and are actively testing or deploying the open interface technology to their LTE and 5G NR networks globally. Vodafone has deployed Open RAN sites in several countries. Telefonica plans to achieve 50% of the new RAN site deployments based on Open RAN between 2022 and 2025. Etisalat has run a production trial of Open RAN for all mobile generations. 
Open RAN is an essential enabler for 5G and open network modernization. With the growth of commercial 5G rollouts, Open RAN plays a leading role in transforming the future wireless communication market by combining 5G with other advanced technologies, such as edge computing, automation and artificial intelligence to address new opportunities in the industry verticals and private networks. With Open RAN architecture, operators can choose RAN components from multi-vendors that best fit their network performance and requirements, encouraging more 5G commercial use cases.
 Open RAN Investments to Approach $10 B to $15 B, Dell'Oro Group, 3 Sep 2021, https://www.delloro.com/news/open-ran-forecast-revised-upward/
 The Open Future of Radio Access Networks, Telecom Engineering Centre of Excellence (TEE), Deloitte, 2021, https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/pt/Documents/technology-media-telecommunications/TEE/The-Open-Future-of-Radio-Access-Networks.pdf
About Jan Berglund
Jan Berglund is the director of products & solutions of international business development & marketing at Comba Telecom, supporting the company’s network business growth and focusing on the strategic directions on Open RAN macro, IBS solutions and enterprise/private network opportunities.
Jan has vast expertise in business planning, strategy, marketing, product management, wireless and datacom in the mobile network industry. He worked with multiple tier-one vendors where he served in leading role across the globe for more than 20 years.