Open RAN: What should telcos do?

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Alongside the roll-out of 5G cores and radios, the Radio Access Network (RAN) is evolving to a more open, virtualised and distributed architecture. What are the opportunities and risks for telcos?


Format: PDF filePages: 43 pagesCharts: 10Author: David MartinPublication Date: April 2020

Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • What is the open RAN and why does it matter?
    • Legacy RAN: single-vendor and inflexible
    • The open RAN: disaggregated and flexible
    • Terminology, initiatives & standards: clearing up confusion
  • What are the opportunities for open RAN?
    • Deployment in macro networks
    • Deployment in greenfield networks
    • Deployment in geographically-dispersed/under-served areas
    • Deployment to support consolidation of radio generations
    • Deployment to support capacity and coverage build-out
    • Deployment to support private and neutral host networks
  • How have operators deployed open RAN?
    • What are the operators doing?
    • How successful have deployments been?
  • How are vendors approaching open RAN?
    • Challenger RAN vendors: pushing for a revolution
    • Incumbent RAN vendors: resisting the open RAN
    • Are incumbent vendors taking the right approach?
  • How should operators do open RAN?
    • Step 1: Define the roadmap
    • Step 2: Implement
    • Step 3: Measure success
  • Conclusions
    • What next?

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Legacy RAN architecture
Figure 2: Centralised RAN (C-RAN) architecture
Figure 3: Virtual RAN (vRAN) architecture
Figure 4: Open-RAN architecture
Figure 5: The open RAN Venn – How C-RAN, vRAN and open-RAN fit together
Figure 6: Open RAN architecture based on the Option 7.2 interface
Figure 7: Open-RAN creates opportunities for new players and business models in private and wholesale networking
Figure 8: Mavenir open RAN architecture and partner ecosystem
Figure 9: Open-RAN versus proprietary RAN roadmaps
Figure 10: Convergence of open-RAN & MEC in Telefónica’s Open Access architecture

Keywords: 4G, 5G, access, C-RAN, centralised RAN, centralized RAN, cloud RAN, coverage, disaggregation, distributed RAN, edge, New Radio, nfv, O-RAN, open RAN, Parallel Wireless, radio, radio access network, RAN, SDN, telco cloud, virtual RAN, vRAN
Companies & technologies covered: Altiostar, Ericsson, Mavenir, Nokia, Rakuten, Telefonica, Vodafone