13 December, 2021
ETNO Position Paper on Open RAN
As 5G is continues to be rolled out in Europe, and its advantages realised, we present an overview of one of the innovations which can help facilitate this transition. This paper explains what Open RAN is and assesses its expected impact on innovation, roll-out, competition, security and efficiency. We provide an overview of the state-of-play of Open RAN and suggest some ways in which EU public policy can contribute.
What is Open RAN?
Traditionally, the various components of Radio Access Networks (RAN) have been provided as a unitary and proprietary combination of hardware and software integrated into a single platform. Due to the lack of interoperability, it was not possible to combine sub-components from different vendors, resulting in de-facto ‘lock-in’ with a single vendor solution. The ambition for Open RAN is to create an open and interoperable multi-vendor architecture that enables the separation between hardware and software, and the softwarization of the network (network virtualization) and introduces open interfaces leveraging cloud native implementation of wireless network functions.
Multi-vendor interoperable products and solutions in Radio Access Networks, along with network virtualization, have the potential to re-define the way we design, build and operate modern mobile networks. Through its role in promoting openness in modern communication networks and favouring the flourishing of the respective supply chains, Open RAN will accelerate innovation in 5G networks and support the objectives of supply diversification, network virtualization and automation.