[White Paper] – Open RAN Integration: Run With It

The Open RAN concept and movement is not new – mobile operators and network and technology vendors have been developing solutions, conducting trials and deploying networks for the last few years. The important point is that Open RAN networks are being deployed today by major operators around the world – this is no longer a science experiment.

The Open RAN concept is about disaggregating the RAN functionality by building networks using a fully programmable software-defined mobile network solution based on open interfaces – radios, base stations, etc. – that runs on commercial, off-the-shelf hardware (COTS) with open interfaces.

There are two main organizations driving Open RAN:

  • OpenRAN refers to the project group that is a part of the Telecom Infra Group (TIP) whose main objective is the deployment of fully programmable RAN solutions based on GPPP/COTS and disaggregated software.
  • The O-RAN Alliance is the other main driver of the Open RAN concept, focused on efforts to standardize interfaces. The alliance was founded in 2018 by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO and Orange.

A recent important step in the development of the Open RAN ecosystem was an alliance agreement between the two organizations. The new agreement allows the two groups to share information, reference specifications and conduct joint testing and integration efforts.

Open RAN software and hardware vendors have been developing network solutions for the last few years. As part of the research for this paper, iGR identified 22 publicly announced MNOs around the world using equipment from multiple vendors, including Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless, who had deployed Open RAN in commercial networks. These MNOs have collectively just over 1.199 billion subscribers in their commercial networks and operate in countries or regions with a total population of more than 2.4 billion.

This means that these operators are responsible for 21.8 percent of the world’s mobile subscriber base. Furthermore, assuming the current trials convert to commercial deployments, iGR estimates that by 2024, Open RAN will be used by MNOs that collectively are responsible for 47.2 percent of the global subscriber base.

As a visual example of how widespread Open RAN is becoming, consider the following map: this shows the Open RAN announced commercial network deployments around the world, from the research iGR conducted in preparing this white paper.

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