5 Strategies to Make 2021 the Year that Open vRAN is Widely Deployed in Brownfield Networks

For all of its societal and pandemic challenges, 2020 will also go down as the year when Open vRAN took off as the foundation for next-generation 4G/5G networks.

Part of that success is the extensive attention given to the Rakuten Mobile network, a greenfield network that launched in April 2020 as the first nationwide wireless network based on open RAN software.

But the understated story of the year is the number of brownfield carriers who are looking to apply the technology as they buildout their existing network. Over the last year a growing number of these operators began carefully integrating this new technology into their existing networks. 

This work doesn’t grab headlines, but I think it will lead to significant deployments in 2021.

Integrating Open RAN with legacy networks takes planning. While each network is different, there are some common themes, as I wrote in an article published in “The Fast Mode.” Here are five strategies that can simplify the adoption of open RAN by brownfield operators:

  • Conduct a 4G Open vRAN trial in single geography to support growth or support for a new frequency band.
  • Use Open vRAN in 4G/5G greenfield network expansion projects.
  • Follow Open vRAN blueprints set up by companies like Altiostar that pre-validate all the  elements needed for an end-to-end solution to enable quick deployment.
  • Build Open vRAN 5G network which, by definition, is a greenfield network opportunity as legacy RAN equipment doesn’t support 5G.
  • Build Open vRAN 5G on top of existing LTE network for non-standalone networks as capacity expansion on top of existing LTE network.

These are the highlights of the more detailed strategies that I proposed in my article. As brownfield operators use these strategies to prove out the benefits of Open RAN in their networks, expect to hear more about deployments and adoption of the framework in 2021.

About The Author
Sridhar Bhaskaran Sridhar is currently working as a Senior Product Manager at Altiostar Networks, Bangalore. In his current role he has been actively involved with customers in discussing deployment aspects of Open RAN architectures.