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Opening a path to open RAN

Carriers need partners that can negate the impact of their skills shortage and can assist them in deploying an open RAN solution that leverages a multivendor, best-of-breed platform. #sponsored

Jennifer Clark

May 16, 2022

3 Min Read
Opening a path to open RAN

Heavy Reading's 1Q22 survey of global carrier trends shows that 82% of carriers consider open RAN to be critical or important to their network strategy over the next three years. 45% of those surveyed expect that between 10% and 25% of their cell sites will use an open RAN architecture by the end of next year; 29% expect that an even greater percentage of cell sites will be open RAN by that time. This is likely to be only the tip of the open RAN iceberg.

Omdia's "LTE and 5G Private Networks Tracker" showed a total of 27 announcements pertaining to private mobile networks as of the end of 2017. By the end of 1Q22, that cumulative number had grown to 1,172 announcements. While open RAN is a priority for the majority of global carriers, it is likely to be mandatory in enterprise private mobile networks. Enterprises implementing greenfield private mobile networks are also much more likely to look outside of the traditional RAN vendors to relative newcomers focused on virtualized open RAN solutions, such as Airspan Networks, Altiostar, Mavenir, JMA and Parallel Wireless.

The move to open RAN compounds both the benefits and challenges of a move to 5G. Highlights on the "challenges" side of the ledger include carriers being tasked to:

  • Manage the expansion and proliferation of moving parts:

    • - Increase in cell sites, traffic and devices
      - Disaggregation of the RAN to RU, CU, DU and RIC

    • Decrease capex and opex

    • Increase network coverage, particularly to underserved areas

      On the "benefits" side, this new, open and disaggregated network enables:

    • Agile service creation

    • Speedy service deployment

    • A new, open ecosystem

    • Avoidance of vendor lock-in

    • A multivendor, best-of-breed RAN solution

      The backdrop to both the benefits and challenges of 5G and open RAN is a carrier environment that is:

      • 1. Suffering from a skills shortage. This is consistently one of the top challenges carriers cite in moving to the next generation of mobile networking, be it 5G, open RAN, cloud native computing, edge computing or new development environments such as Kubernetes-based orchestration, CI/CD and DevOps.
        2. Trying to automate. Carriers know that a network that leverages automation throughout the network lifecycle of design, deploy and manage is key to addressing network challenges and reaping the anticipated benefits of 5G and open RAN.

      Carriers and (even more so) enterprises need help in shouldering the work involved in a move to open RAN. It does not make sense for the majority of carriers to retain the skills needed internally. The migration path is not even clear enough for them to discern the path or the skills needed on that path. Managing the lifecycle of a new, open ecosystem of a multivendor, disaggregated mobile access network demands a systems integrator with a focus on open RAN, such as Amdocs, everis/NTT DATA, NEC or Tech Mahindra.

      Carriers should be looking for partners that can negate the impact of their skills shortage and assist them in deploying an open RAN solution that leverages a multivendor, best-of-breed solution. The benefits of a partner also extend to the ability to lab test, then field test before the solution is deployed. Such a solution will assist carriers and enterprises in the overall automation of the network lifecycle, leveraging analytics and machine learning in the RAN solution, and opening a path to open RAN.

      — Jennifer P. Clark, Principal Analyst — Cloud Infrastructure and Edge Computing, Heavy Reading

      This blog is sponsored by Amdocs.|

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Clark

Principal Analyst – Cloud Infrastructure & Edge Computing

Jennifer Pigg Clark is Principal Analyst with Heavy Reading covering Cloud Infrastructure and Edge Computing. Clark provides actionable insight into service provider evolution, examining the challenges and opportunities facing network operators as they move towards 5G and IoT with an increasingly virtualized and cloud native infrastructure. Clark examines the solutions and technology reshaping the telco data center, technologies such as Edge Computing, Open Source, OpenStack, container networking, Network Orchestration, Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and SD-WAN. Clark started her industry research career with the Yankee Group, which was acquired by 451 Research in 2013. She held the role of Sr. Vice President at Yankee Group. Prior to joining Yankee Group, Clark was Manager of Network Planning and Strategy for Wang Laboratories'corporate data network. She began her career at Wang with responsibility for the domestic and international roll-out of Wang's packet network, connecting more than 250 locations in 14 countries. Before joining Wang, she was a member of the IT research and development division of Commercial Union Insurance Companies. Clark is a highly regarded speaker at industry seminars and conferences and is frequently cited by the commercial and trade press. She has been a guest lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a member of the IEEE. She holds a B.A. degree from Mount Holyoke College.

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