The O-RAN Alliance has announced that it has seven new operator members, bringing its total membership up to 12.
The seven new members are Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Telstra.
They all join founding members AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO and Orange.
Seven new members joining the alliance looks like a good sign of momentum. However, although O-RAN was positioned as a merger of xRAN and C-RAN Alliance, four members of the X-RAN alliance appear not to have taken their membership forward to the new O-RAN Alliance.
xRAN had ten operator members – AT&T, DT, SKT, Verizon, Telstra, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Telefonica, Sprint and Jio. Of these Verizon, KDDI, Sprint* and Jio are missing from the O-RAN Alliance board.
New members that were not originally members of xRAN include Bharti Airtel, KT, Singtel and China Telecom.
Verizon seems to have its own Open RAN plans, although it has made few public statements about it. A February 2018 press release announced that Samsung was, as a new LTE vendor, conforming to its Open RAN principles. Samsung is also radio supplier to Jio, another operator not to have progressed to O-RAN, as it is to Sprint. (TMN has asked Sprint and Verizon for comment on their position with regard to O-RAN and xRAN*.)
*UPDATE: Sprint has now told TMN that it “plans to join the O-RAN Alliance”.
Founding O-RAN member Orange said to TMN in a statement, “As the by-laws for O-RAN has just been announced, we anticipate that other operators will be reviewing these now before deciding if they will join O-RAN. We do anticipate that other operators will come on board.”
The formation of the O-RAN Alliance was positioned as a merger of two existing cloud and open RAN groups – xRAN and C-RAN Alliance – was announced at MWC2018. (One founding member, Orange, was a member of neither group, although it told TMN is had been “reviewing both C-RAN and X-RAN at the time”.)
This week the group held its first board meeting at MWC Shanghai. Members officially started the group by co-signing the Constitution Articles of the O-RAN Alliance.
The Board also approved the O-RAN architecture with an initial set of seven working groups, which are:
– WG1: Use Cases & Overall Architecture
– WG2: Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) (non-Real Time) & A1 Interface
– WG3: RIC (near-Real Time) & E2 Interface
– WG4: Open Fronthaul (FH) Interface
– WG5: Stack Reference Design and F1/V1/E1/X2
– WG6: Cloudification and orchestration
– WG7: White Box Hardware
SELECTED PRESS RELEASE QUOTES:
“To realise the full potential of 5G, it is essential that we evolve the full end-to-end system architecture to be more flexible, agile and efficient. We look forward now to intensifying the work with our industry partners in the O-RAN Alliance to push more openness, intelligence and programmability into the radio access network.” – Alex Jinsung Choi, Operations Officer of the O-RAN Alliance and SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
“The O-RAN activity complements the standards developed by the 3GPP to facilitate 5G specification and deployment by pushing for open interfaces and APIs for the radio subsystem, which needs to evolve towards virtualisation as it is in the networks systems. The importance of such standards to be implemented by the industry to speed up 5G deployments and to reach large economies is crucial if we are to deliver a 5G world where connectivity should be ubiquitous in an affordable manner.” Emmanuel Lugagne Delpon, senior vice president, Orange Labs Networks.
“Last year in AT&T we … joined the industry in launching ONAP to extend the reach of open virtualisation and automation. The Open Networking Foundation is extending virtualisation beyond the core, to re-architect the central office and access technology. And now we are taking the next major step of this journey, to open and virtualise global wireless networks, with the founding and expansion of the O-RAN Alliance. The O-RAN Alliance will drive intelligent, open software defined networks and virtualisation elements that will help 5G networks achieve their full potential and unlock new experiences for consumers and businesses around the world.” – Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and president, AT&T Labs.