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Test & Measurement

O-RAN Alliance adds Telus and U.S. Cellular to its ranks

The O-RAN Alliance boasted that it now has 26 telecoms operators in its ranks, with recent new members including Telus and U.S. Cellular.

The alliance now has more than 200 members in total, including a mix of operators, vendors and research and academic institutions operating in the RAN industry. The addition of new operator members adds further grist to the mill of this disruptive wild child of the networks technology sector. Indeed, the rebel group is starting to look positively staid, not least following its recent tie-up with the GSM Association.

Formed about two years ago, the O-RAN Alliance is working on specifications for alternative RAN interfaces, with the aim of opening up the RAN market to non-traditional suppliers and improving interoperability.

The alliance is making some progress with the new specifications, publishing its second software release, "Bronze," in June and a white paper on use cases and deployment scenarios.

Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and chief technology officer, network services, at AT&T, hailed the new use cases, the Bronze software release, and the new alliance members as indications "that this global forum is working exactly as intended."

Ultimately, operators hope that open RAN will lead to a more competitive supplier market and lower costs, reducing their reliance on traditional vendors such as Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia. Ericsson and Nokia are also members of the O-RAN Alliance, although Nokia seems the more enthusiastic of the two about the technology. Indeed, the Finnish vendor recently launched open RAN 5G products.

Ericsson professes to remain "actively engaged in shaping the future of the O-RAN initiative," according to a quote from Per Beming, head of standards and industry initiative at the Swedish vendor. However, Ericsson and Huawei tend to be seen as more resistant to open RAN technology.

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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