Virtualized, open RAN meant to take cost out of network deployments
Focused on the goal of delivering fully disaggregated, multi-vendor radio access network sites, the Open Test and Integration Center will serve as a sandbox for vendors and carriers to explore interoperability and validation of open RAN technologies.
Just like trends around virtualization and disaggregation in the core network, the whole idea here is to upend the proprietary, vendor lock-in RAN model by switching over to general-purpose IT hardware running specialized software. This would give carriers more flexibility and mesh with the long-term move toward 5G network slicing while also reducing RAN-facing capex, which is the bulk of investment, particularly in a generational upgrade cycle.
The Open Test and Integration Center was stood up by China Mobile, Reliance Jio, China Telecom, China Unicom, Intel, Radisys, Samsung, Airspan, Baicells, CertusNet, Mavenir, Lenovo, Ruijie Network, Inspur, Sylincom, WindRiver, ArrayComm and Chengdu NTS.
China Mobile EVP Li Zhengmao called out “operational efficiencies” associated the open RAN efforts and said, “Its disaggregated architecture focuses on open interfaces, open source software, open hardware reference design, and embedded AI/ML and data analytics. CMCC will initiate an OTIC in Beijing, China, which should provide the common platform for solutions to be operationally ready to enable end-to-end interoperability and deployment in scale; as well as to be hardened for reliability, performance, scalability, and security that operator networks require.”
Reliance Jio is an interesting operator in that it built a brand new, nationwide LTE network in India using a cloud-native architecture; formerly of Reliance Jio, Rakuten Mobile CTO Tariq Amen is taking the same approach to a greenfield network build in Japan.
Jio’s President Matthew Oommen said the operator “has been able to fundamentally disrupt the telecom, however we realize that disruption and innovation is a continuous process. We are fast-tracking our efforts in 5G and open technologies…The OTIC is an important step toward enabling the commercialization of the Open RAN Platform and the new model for wireless networks.”