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April 17, 2023

Open RAN Frequently Asked Questions
(All you need to know)

What is Open RAN?

Open RAN is the concept of disaggregating functions within the Radio Access Network (RAN), enabling the various hardware and software functions that make up the RAN to be provided in a multi-vendor, interoperable environment. Open RAN is an ongoing shift in mobile network architectures for communications service providers (CSPs) to introduce non-proprietary subcomponents from a variety of vendors that adhere to a set of industry-wide standards that telecom suppliers can follow when producing related equipment.

A more detailed explanation can be found new windowhere>

What is the O-RAN Alliance?

The O-RAN ALLIANCE is a world-wide community of CSPs, vendors, and research & academic institutions with a mission to re-shape Radio Access Networks to be more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable.

Learn more about the O-RAN Alliance new windowhere>

What are the advantages/benefits of 5G Open RAN?

Open RAN enables a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem, allowing operators to build fit-for-purpose networks with greater flexibility, efficiency, and agility. Open RAN opens the market to a greater set of vendors who will drive faster innovation and open up new business opportunities for CSPs. Open RAN is also inherently cloud-native, driving enormous flexibility for micro-service based functionalities and virtualized workflows that drive cost-efficiencies and new capabilities for network optimization and management.

Is Open RAN a major energy saver?

One of the key advantages of Open RAN is the introduction of greater intelligence and automation into networks. The use of AI-driven capabilities and virtualized compute and distribution functions will lead to a huge reduction in hardware-dependent systems. The introduction of other functions such as rApps running on non-real time and xApps on near-real time RAN Intelligence Controllers (RIC) platforms, that will help operators intelligently monitor and manage their networks will also optimize energy consumption.  The combination of these factors, and more, will ultimately lead to significantly less energy consumption.

What are the risks of Open RAN security?

Open RAN provides the transparency needed for operators to build networks aligned with the need to control security policies, especially given the  dramatic architectural change of networks required in the 5G era. Additionally, standardization bodies such as O-RAN ALLIANCE and TIP are widely addressing and analyzing requirements to support specifications for network security.

Learn more about the impact of Open RAN on security here>

Will Open RAN save costs?

Cost savings will be an increasingly significant rationale for building open networks. CSPs should be aware that some of these savings will not be immediately realized, but will become more apparent as 5G traffic volumes grow and open networks thrive with an expanded multi-vendor ecosystem. Clearly, early adopters will enjoy cost benefits first. However, it should be noted that cost reduction is no longer the primary motivation for operators (according to the new windowGSMA Intelligence Network Transformation Survey 2022).

Is Open RAN the key to the future and success of 5G?

Delivering new 5G solutions to new markets requires collaboration with industry vertical vendors and other specialist vendors, which in turn requires the open architecture and collaborative models that Open RAN provides.

A good example is that mobile operators struggled in the past to provide bespoke solutions that could meet the specific needs of individual enterprises. With 5G and Open RAN capabilities, it is now possible to deliver services that are tailored to the individual enterprise’s needs and create new business opportunities for CSPs.

Is Open RAN the key to eventual 6G deployment?

Many CSPs and vendors have provided their visions for 6G. Most of these visions emphasize two critical points; automation and the need for 6G to be “AI native”. Most anticipate even more automation in 6G given the higher speeds and lower latencies involved. The blueprints for solutions that will be supported by 6G are already being drawn today in Open RAN, and Open RAN should be one of the critical 6G architectural foundations, in a similar way that virtualization is an architectural foundation for 5G RAN today.

Why is NEC committed to 5G Open RAN?

At NEC, we believe 5G has the potential to impact every aspect of the way we live, work, and play, but only if we as an industry embrace radical thinking to drive far-reaching change and unlock the true potential of 5G. Open 5G will free them from closed ecosystems that severely limit creativity, flexibility, and innovation in the mobile networks that mean so much to our daily lives.

Learn more our 5G Newtork Solutions>