Definition and Importance of Open RAN “Fostering Investment in 5G Infrastructure”

Open RAN (Open Radio Access Network) is a technology that standardizes the design of equipment used in the radio access section of a mobile communication network, and is particularly related to the construction of 5G infrastructure.
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RAN connects base stations that transmit and receive traffic from endpoints such as mobile phones or laptops, and provides a connection function to the core network of a telecommunication company.

If there is no set standard, radio equipment manufacturers designing RAN equipment do not have to consider compatibility with equipment made by other companies. As a result, telecommunication companies deal only with one company for smooth network operation. This vendor dependency limits competition among device vendors for individual RAN elements, leading to high device prices and limiting network design flexibility.

What is Open RAN

Open RAN is a standardization technology that is built in collaboration with various equipment companies and telecommunication companies to solve this compatibility problem. When a piece of equipment meets the Open RAN standard, it must also be compatible with equipment from other vendors that meet the Open RAN standard. Thus, telecommunication companies and companies have the opportunity to purchase equipment on better terms without relying on one company.

The open RAN standard can also be used by software developers who develop and build innovative functions and services that can quickly respond to user needs.

Additionally, the open RAN architecture virtualizes parts of the cellular network that were originally handled by dedicated hardware and software. Time-affected functions such as QoS management, handover control and load balancing are at the RAN Intelligent Controller near-RT (RIC near-RT) layer, and policy management and analysis at the RIC non-real time (RAN Intelligent Controller near-RT) layer. is processed in Similarly, virtualization functions for radio frequency and baseband processing are provided by the distributed base station unit (DU) and remote base station unit (RRU) layers.

This function gives the opportunity to configure the hardware that is actually used, while also providing the core functions required for any mobile communication network. If a piece of equipment complies with the O-RAN standard, it is compatible with other equipment that complies with the O-RAN standard.

Open RAN standardization organizations and their current status

The O-RAN Alliance, the largest open RAN technology standardization organization, is supported by all major equipment vendors. Therefore, it can be said that it is a de facto standard, and the specification of Open RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), Distributed Base Station and Remote Radio Base Station has been published.

The O-RAN coalition must also address political issues. Nokia temporarily halted technical work and funding this fall, fearing that the company could be subject to sanctions for collaborating with Chinese companies blacklisted by the US government. The amended Open RAN regulations have made Chinese companies comply with US law, but as long as sanctions against China continue, a bigger problem cannot be ruled out.

The Telecom Infra Project has confirmed the requirements for some specifications with its own open LAN standard, and Small Cell has released some specifications. All of these initiatives ultimately lead to almost the same goal.

The Impact of Open RAN on 5G

Telecom operators have long struggled with high infrastructure costs. The cost problem has become even more serious with the deployment of 5G equipment. 5G has a shorter communication distance than LTE and requires more base stations to provide radio coverage. It seems that the cost will never be cheaper in this situation. So the big telcos are eagerly waiting for initiatives to cut capital expenditures.

Open RAN and Private 5G

Open RAN is essential for enterprises looking to deploy private 5G and LTE. One of the obstacles to wider adoption of certified private wireless networks is cost. Open RAN alleviates these costs. The market size of private 5G and LTE is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next five years. Recently, Juniper Research revealed that annual spending on private cellular networks will more than double to reach $12 billion in the next two years, with the rise of open RAN being the most likely cause. [email protected]

Source: ITWorld Korea by www.itworld.co.kr.

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