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Open RAN Standardization

Open, secure and interoperable networks are in Nokia's DNA

5 key takeaways

  • Nokia is the #1 contributor with 17% of all technical contributions to the O-RAN ALLIANCE the past 3 years

  • Nokia was the 1st vendor to join the O-RAN ALLIANCE

  • Nokia holds the maximum of 3 co-chair positions, only 2 other vendors hold 3 positions

  • Nokia is being recognized by ABI Research as the exclusive standardization leader in O-RAN with a 9/10 score

  • As an O-RAN Contributor, Nokia is driving the ALLIANCE processes and procedures to adapt SDO best practices

The Open Radio Access Network (RAN) will have a significant role to play in networking’s future. Open RAN will cultivate a more dynamic and competitive supplier ecosystem, and it will foster rapid innovation not only in network products but also in applications and services. 

As one of the most trusted providers in the telecommunications sector, Nokia has always pursued technologies that meet the needs of our customers and society. For this reason, Nokia, has long been an advocate of open and interoperable networks, even before the term Open RAN was coined. We are active in every standards development organization which fosters openness and have been independently recognized for our leadership in the O-RAN ALLIANCE. The ALLIANCE boasts over 300 participants, including 33 mobile network operators collectively serving over 5 billion subscribers globally.

Nokia’s goal is to broaden the current perception of Open RAN as front-haul technology to multiple aspects of the RAN. By doing so, we can create a truly open and interoperable ecosystem that will benefit service providers, network suppliers and the people who ultimately depend on wireless connectivity to go about their daily lives. 

Nokia’s Open RAN credentials

Nokia has been a player in Open RAN standards development since its inception. Even before Nokia assumed the role of the inaugural vendor at the O-RAN ALLIANCE, it had been an active participant in the ALLIANCE’s precursor organization, the xRAN Forum and the C-RAN Alliance. There Nokia was instrumental in producing the specifications for fronthaul control user synchronization, work it continues to lead in the O-RAN ALLIANCE.

Today Nokia is the largest contributor to O-RAN standards, producing approximately 17% of all Open RAN technical contributions over the past three years. Our active involvement spans nine of the 11 O-RAN ALLIANCE working groups, where we are rapporteur for many key specifications. Nokia co-chairs three pivotal working groups in the ALLIANCE – the maximum number permitted by a single vendor – focusing on the fronthaul interfaces, the near-real-time RAN intelligent controller and operations and maintenance (OAM).

While the O-RAN ALLIANCE is the leading Open RAN standards body, Nokia actively contributes to Open RAN efforts in many other organizations, including 3GPP, TMForum, Open RAN Policy Coalition, Telecom Infra Project, IETF, IEEE and OpenAirInterface Software Alliance (OAI). Nokia founded the OAI in 2015, and in 2019, we hosted the OAI’s first ever workshop on U.S. soil.

In 2023, ABI Research recognized Nokia as the single largest contributor to the O-RAN ALLIANCE standards, giving Nokia a nine-out-of-10 rating for its Open RAN specifications work.


In November 2023, ABI Research acknowledged Nokia as the exclusive frontrunner among vendors in terms of contributions to the O-RAN ALLIANCE

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Nokia is involved in the largest number of commercial multi-vendor Open RAN deployments of any supplier. We have established Open RAN collaboration and testing centers in the U.S. and Germany, which help foster partnerships among Open RAN vendors as well as verify, introduce and launch Open RAN-compliant solutions in the market.

The future of Open RAN


Nokia’s goal is to continue the current good work of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, while expanding Open RAN’s mission to make its impact far more comprehensive.

Today Open RAN efforts are focused primarily on open fronthaul deployments, which will enable a truly multi-vendor environment for the radio and distributed units in the network. Nokia supports those efforts, and it is driving specifications for fronthaul uplink performance improvements to feed demand for more symmetrical applications.

However, Open RAN has the potential to be move far beyond fronthaul. Nokia believes that the same principles of openness can be applied to nearly every aspect of the RAN. Therefore we are a strong advocate of multiple ongoing specification initiatives:

  • Open O1 interfaces will ensure interoperability between different elements and the network’s Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) framework. In the O-RAN ALLIANCE and 3GPP, Nokia is promoting the reuse of management services, APIs and models, while encouraging the consolidation of O1 variants to simplify multi-vendor interoperability to ensure alignment and leverage of synergies.
  • Evolving toward a cloud-native RAN will significantly benefit Open RAN. Nokia is contributing to the Acceleration Abstraction Layer (AAL) specification, which will bring in-line acceleration to Open RAN. Moreover, Nokia is advocating intent, declarative, autonomous orchestration and life-cycle management of cloud resources and cloudified network functions by leveraging the O2 interface, which connects the SMO to the Open-Cloud. We are also backing the Application Service Descriptor (ASD) to ensure cloud-native application packages are standardized and consistent with cloud infrastructures.
  • Open RAN and security should go hand in hand. As an ethical supplier and firm believer in the “secure by design” principle, Nokia believes all aspects of Open RAN – including interfaces, APIs, packages, and all functions – need to be built with comprehensive security in mind. The aim is for all elements of Open RAN to move to a zero-trust architecture.

For Open RAN to have a global impact, the O-RAN ALLIANCE needs to further evolve toward becoming a truly world-class standards development organization (SDO). That’s why Nokia is driving many of the improvements to O-RAN ALLIANCE’s processes, which are essential to ensuring high-quality specifications and promote interoperability. For instance, Nokia has helped the ALLIANCE update its procedures to ensure compliance with U.S law. Meanwhile, Nokia is using its worldwide influence to promote global adoption of Open RAN specifications with no regional fragmentation.

Nokia embraces Open RAN’s complexity, but we are also systematically identifying opportunities to make Open RAN logically simple and attractive for the industry. To promote innovation and value creation, we are redirecting the focus of Open RAN away from prescribed solutions toward the creation of a powerful and flexible toolset. This toolkit will make it easy to create interoperable, differentiating solutions that capture the shift in value to cloud.

In essence, Nokia's leadership within the O-RAN ALLIANCE cannot merely be summed up by the number of specifications we propose, the quality of our contributions or work groups we co-chair. Nokia’s Open RAN leadership is also defined by our strategic orchestration of global Open RAN efforts and our commitment to elevating Open RAN within the standards community. Nokia is ensuring the industry reaps the benefits of global open standards seamlessly and cohesively.