Mobile_Broadband_TechnologiesNetworks Service Platforms

Networks & Service Platforms

Is The Real Dawn of Open vRAN Initiatives Here?

Report Summary:

The Open vRAN community has progressed in multiple aspects. The development of chipset solutions for ‘in-line’ physical layer accelerators and massive MIMO processing can now effectively improve the performance of Open vRAN’s Distributed Unit (DU) and Radio Unit (RU) systems. The introduction of the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) and Service Management and Orchestration, can reduce the operating cost and complexity as well as help operators build new revenue streams. All these advances make the jigsaw puzzle of Open vRAN close to being completed. 2022 – 2023 is expected to be a critical period for the Open vRAN community to gain real momentum in the global radio access network market as a real high performance pre-cursor to the ‘overhyped’ commoditized Open RAN.

Two potential markets for Open vRAN solutions have emerged: mobile operator networks and enterprise/campus networks. Unlike public cellular networks of mobile operators, enterprise/campus networks usually do not require massive MIMO, high Transmit (Tx) power, or large baseband capacity. It is easier for the emerging Open vRAN vendors to establish market share and accelerate economies of scale in the enterprise and campus environment. That market offers a good steppingstone for the Open vRAN vendors to meet the supplier requirements of leading mobile operators.

Until now the Tier 1 mobile operators that form the O-RAN Alliance have long been awaiting the components and embedded software that now make high-performance DU and RU products feasible, although it is still uncertain whether the new O-RAN compliant players can meet the requirements of large-scale 5G rollouts. The physical layer software is critical for implementing these high-performance Open vRAN system.

The complexity and costs of system integration are always a big challenge for any operator looking to deploy an Open vRAN system. Open labs, integration centers, etc., established by industry organizations or leading operators are being used to test and improve the interoperability of Open vRAN products and perform ‘pre-integration’ to enhance the stability and performance of end-to-end Open vRAN solutions while reducing the workload of system integration on-site. Some kind of experience/lessons sharing mechanism will be vital for operators that plan to deploy Open vRAN systems, to understand the challenges and reduce the cost of Open vRAN system integration. More collaboration between leading operators should improve Open vRAN interoperability and create pre-integrated ecosystems of vendors over time.

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary. 3

2. Introduction. 4

3. Open vRAN is completing the Jigsaw Puzzle. 5

3.1 DU Architecture Evolving. 6

3.2 Massive MIMO RU Emerging. 8

3.3 RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) as an Open Platform... 10

rApps run on the Non-Real-Time RIC to enable: 11

xApps on Near Real time RIC should soon be able to: 11

4. Two Markets for Open vRAN.. 14

4.1 Mobile Operator Networks. 14

4.2 Enterprise and Campus Networks. 17

5. Outlook for the Next Two Years. 19

5.1 Performance Key for Open vRAN in Carrier Networks. 19

5.2 Phased Approach with Open vRAN likely to precede full Open RAN Rollout. 20

5.3 Collaboration for System Integration. 22

5.4 Implications. 23

6. Analyst Contacts. 24

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