The benefits of an Open RAN ecosystem

Open RAN Ecosystem debate now available to view on-demand.

The Open RAN ecosystem stands well-placed to help operators compete more effectively and meet strategic goals around service delivery, according to an event held by TMN that featured speakers from BT, Picocom, Radisys, Accton and Mobile Experts.

The event asked:

  • If the Open RAN ecosystem is in a healthy state
  • Where Open RAN vendors are gaining traction
  • If product and system integration is maturing
  • How an Open RAN ecosystem can benefit operators

Watch a full recording of the event here.

Open RAN Ecosystem Live Panel

Kjung Mun, Principal Analyst, Mobile Experts, in a special presentation for the event, identified several areas where Open RAN would see growth, including most notably in indoor networks and private networks.

Richard Mackenzie, Distinguished Engineer in Wireless Networks, BT, agreed that it is in these sorts of areas, as well as with the rollout of 5G Standalone, that BT sees a role for Open RAN at first.

He said that as BT begins rolling out 5G Standalone, it is going to want to be able to deliver a huge number of differentiated services. He said that as BT comes up with services that it wants to deploy, it won’t want to build a network specially for each service opportunity, if it can enable it through the provisioning of software.

“It’s not going to be the same sorts of services that we deploy everywhere, and we need to make sure that we’ve got a network that we can modify to add certain characterisitcs as and when required. So we need that flexibility in the architecture, that’s one of the key things that Open RAN adds.”

Watch a full recording of the event here.

Peter Claydon, President of chip developer Picocom, whose product is integrated in Open RAN Radio Units and Distributed Units (RUs) said that his company is seeing customers for indoor, as well as urban small cell infill.

He added that operators are also likely to see benefit from the RIC element of Open RAN architecture, as it allows them to manage a diverse RAN estate.

BT’s Mackenzie agreed that the RIC could enhance the way thay operators can compete with each other.

“It’s not just about creating a competitive ecosystem for the vendors; the operators need to compete against each other and while we are trying to build networks with identical components it’s very difficult. The RIC really gives us an opportunity to differentiate and compete against each other more effectively,” he said.

The event also addressed the issue of system integration and maturity.

Ganesh Shenbagaraman, Head of Integrated Products and Ecosystem, Radisys, said that one of the “fundamental things” that operators can achieve with Open RAN is hardware and software decoupling. In that context, he said that creating open interfaces is not just about counting the number of vendors involved in a system, but in creating a flexible architecture that means an operator can choose the vendors it wants. “The degree that the operator would like to have is dependent on the use case and situation of that operator. But we see people take a graduated approach on how to do it,” he said.

Wayne Kuo, Software Manager for 5G at Taiwan manufacturer Accton, said that the company had found that integrating its RU, which it built on a Picocom SoC, with a DU to be a challenge. But he added that situation had improved. Picocom’s Claydon said that Picocom had been able to reduce RU-DU integration from weeks to just two days, over the past year or so.

You can watch a full recording of the event, including Kjung Mun’s presentation, here.