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Hear industry analysts weigh in on the power of Open RAN

In late 2020 we asked industry analysts to answer our questions about Open RAN. 

On this page:

Flexibility   |   Performance and innovation   |   Open RAN Alliance   |   Cloud RAN  |   Open source   |   Security   |   Project-specific integration   | 

How do we achieve flexibility in building multivendor Open RAN networks?

 

"We're seeing 5G deployments with companies which are looking at disrupting the radio architecture and capitalizing on greenfield implementations. That said, as a service provider with a wide area network, you've got to be careful balancing how that is implemented - the systems integration requirements and particularly the feature transparency between the different vendors."

Phil Marshall
Tolaga Research and Topio Networks

"With an open interface you can think about different suppliers for different components - for the baseband and the radio. But what's interesting is if we combine this with the move towards virtualization."

Peter Jarich
GSMA Intelligence

"One of the big discussions in Open RAN is the increase in the size of the ecosystem, bringing in new players. I think most likely we will see CSPs selecting different vendors for a given a market or a region."

Iain Gillott
iGR

How can Open RAN give operators more flexibility in building 5G RAN networks?

 "It's fairly simple: by establishing that open interface between the baseband and the radio - CSPs have this sort of mix and match opportunity that they didn't have before."

Peter Jarich
GSMA Intelligence

How to evaluate Open RAN performance, cost? How does Open RAN enable innovation? What to expect in the near future?

 

"Intelligent Controllers are particularly important for that purpose as well as an alignment between what it is that you're trying to achieve with your network - what use cases that you're developing and supporting and how RAN can be optimized for their purpose."

Phil Marshall
Tolaga Research and Topio Networks

"Open RAN right now will be significantly different to what we see and what we have in 2023, in 2025 and beyond. So we think that the if we get to mid [decade] - we'll see a very different landscape than the one we have today."

Gabriel Brown
Heavy Reading

"Disaggregating the cell site gateway is a work in progress. Open RAN leads to the "SDN-ization" of radio access, to some extent. The recent move by the Open Networking Foundation looking at how to design a Radio Access Network Intelligent Controller (RIC) is a very good example of that."

Stéphane Téral
LightCounting Market Research

Do you expect the Open RAN will lead to similar network performance as non-Open RAN networks?

"Now, with 5G requiring low latency, you might want to move the Distributed Unit closer to the Radio Unit. We are going to learn a lot with these new, more distributed architectures. That's where I believe it's going to be very interesting to see how we can deliver on the performance requirements of 5G use cases."

Stéphane Téral
LightCounting Market Research

Will Open RAN lead to lower RAN equipment or lower network costs?

"The one of big things gets discussed with Open RAN is lowering of cost, specifically lowering CAPEX. While the RAN is about 70% of the cost of building a network, the actual equipment is a minority part of that 70%  A lot of the cost is the crew going out to the site installing. Those things don't change with Open RAN."

Iain Gillott
iGR

Why do service providers join the Open RAN Alliance?

 

"When we talk with operators it's clear Open RAN is a strategic imperative. And it's why they join groups like the Open RAN Alliance Policy Coalition. Operators want to be a part of influencing that, not just stay on the sidelines."

Peter Jarich
GSMA intelligence

"The number one reason that operators tell me about why they participate, why they join or how they evaluate the Open RAN Alliance is they want to see more innovation in the RAN layer. They want to benefit from the same innovative competition that they've seen in other parts of the network."

Patrick Filkins
IDC

What is the relationship between Open RAN and Cloud RAN or vRAN?

"They both have strong synergies, because the Open RAN allows you to distribute your architecture in a flexible manner using standardized interfaces and obviously in a cloud environment that's advantageous because you can leverage that flexibility to be able to better meet the demands of the RAN network implementations."

Phil Marshall
Tolaga Research and Topio Networks

"We are rethinking the RAN in different ways. One dimension is the virtualization of the RAN which is Cloud RAN - and then there is Open RAN which focuses on opening the interfaces."

Monica Paolini
Senza Fili

How is Open RAN related to open source? Does Open RAN compliance mean that the network software is open source?

 

"Typically as a CSPs you would use open source software to create the foundation of the solution, but then you need to build on top of that - it's crucial because that's a way to differentiate."

Monica Paolini
Senza Fili

"One of the big misconceptions of Open RAN is that all of the software is going to be open sourced as well, like it happens in many enterprise IT environments. That's not really the case."

Iain Gillott
iGR

What are the security considerations in Open RAN?

 

"I don't think there are specific security issues with Open RAN. People will try to break into your network and what you need to do as an operator is to make sure that all of your vendors follow the same security standards."

Monica Paolini
Senza Fili

"I'm not sure Open RAN introduces really new network security weaknesses just because we have those open APIs. Having new vendors come in doesn't mean those vendors are inherently insecure or those APIs are insecure. If you design the network properly, if you design with security in mind - you can deal with those security issues."

Iain Gillott
iGR

How does the O-RAN Alliance tackle security challenges? Are there any lessons to be learned about open collaboration and security?

"Think about building the "security first" mindset of how you build security into the way you develop from the beginning, so that you're not actually just trying to solve things retroactively."

Peter Jarich
GSMA intelligence

Stéphane Téral
LightCounting Market Research

How is Open RAN different from project-specific integration?

 

"With Open RAN interfaces are open to multiple companies and as that's how we get scale, it's not just for a one-off. This scale then that allows you to build solutions that the whole industry can benefit from."

Peter Jarich
GSMA intelligence

"It's important to understand that despite the fact that you want to have open standards and open interfaces, there is a need to build on top of it. This is how you differentiate your network in a positive way from others."

Monica Paolini
Senza Fili

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