open RAN

Verizon, Dish drive open RAN in the US, Dell'Oro finds

Research and consulting firm Dell'Oro Group raised its open RAN expectations in part due to "stronger-than-expected O-RAN progress in North America." The company specifically pointed to the open RAN efforts by Dish Network and Verizon.

However, Dell'Oro Group analyst Stefan Pongratz declined to provide much in the way of details. When questioned about the situation by Light Reading, Pongratz provided a portion of the firm's report on the situation: "In one case, the operator is ordering 7.2x compatible radios from one of its vendors, but the carrier is waiting to fully deploy open RAN. In another case, the operator is ordering large quantities of O-RAN radios to scale deployments, but the carrier might be struggling to activate the sites. The gap between O-RAN orders and commercial deployments should shrink over time," according to the new Dell'Oro Group report.

Pongratz declined to provide the names of the North American operators referenced, but it's likely that the first operator mentioned is Verizon and the second, the one struggling to activate sites, is Dish.

Continued Dell'Oro Group, in its report: "As a reminder, the revenues outlined in this forecast report reflect open RAN manufacturer revenues. Similar to other technology transitions, revenue recognition is not always synchronized with operator deployments, especially in the early stages. In fact, there can be a lag of several quarters or years between revenue recognition and commercial open RAN deployments."

An open RAN upswing

In its press release, Dell'Oro Group reported that "the open RAN movement has come a long way in just a few years, propelling open RAN revenues to accelerate at a faster pace than initially expected. These trends continued in 2022 and with this latest report, open RAN expectations have been revised upward to reflect the higher baseline, supported by stronger-than-expected O-RAN progress in North America. Open RAN is now projected to account for 15 percent to 20 percent of global RAN by 2027."

In North America, Dish has made no secret of its interest in open RAN. The company recently said its 5G radios sit atop 15,000 cell towers around the country. Further, the company appears to be moving forward with its new radio partner Samsung. Indeed, Samsung recently posted on LinkedIn of a visit by top Dish executives at its South Korean headquarters.

However, Dish has struggled to implement some new technologies on its network, including Voice over 5G New Radio, or VoNR.

But Dell'Oro Group's inclusion of Verizon as a major driver for open RAN is noteworthy considering Verizon hasn't been as vocal about its efforts in the area as Dish.

However, in recent months Verizon has been getting louder about its interest in open RAN technology. For example, Verizon's Adam Koeppe said last year the company will likely adopt open RAN equipment in its network during 2022 and "definitely" by 2023.

And in a press release at the end of 2022, Verizon said it already counts 8,000 cell sites that are virtualized in its network, and continues to make progress toward virtualizing 20,000 sites. In September, Verizon said its virtualization efforts create "the foundation for ORAN. ORAN is an evolution of the virtual network architecture with the potential to bring many benefits in terms of deployment flexibility, faster innovation in an open environment, and greater service options by increasing the opportunity for new entrants to provide competitive and advanced solutions. More competition, more innovation, and increased supplier diversity will all be a net benefit to operators and consumers."

Verizon has named vendors including Samsung, Ericsson, Intel and RedHat as supporting its virtualization efforts.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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