Open RAN progress drives confidence it will deliver on operators’ strategic objectives

30 April 2024 | Research

James Kirby | Caroline Gabriel | Stephen Burton | Gorkem Yigit

Perspective | PDF (25 pages) | Next-Generation Wireless Networks


Virtualised RAN (vRAN) has achieved significant progress so far, with a range of operators, vendors and government stakeholders driving momentum through tests, trials and towards commercial deployments. There still remain challenges to vRAN and Open RAN adoption, but many of the issues related to performance and total cost of ownership (TCO) uncertainty, previously the biggest barriers to vRAN adoption, are being effectively addressed, and operators are confident that all major challenges facing the technology will be overcome.

However, even when challenges are addressed, operators still need to be certain that vRAN justifies new investment in terms of business returns. Before they accelerate their progress towards at-scale commercial deployments, vRAN must clearly demonstrate that it supports operators’ most critical strategic objectives. This paper demonstrates the evolution of operator confidence in vRAN and Open RAN and the value that it provides to deliver on their commercial and technical goals. The findings are based on a unique survey of over 60 operators worldwide that have already deployed, or are planning to deploy, Open RAN or vRAN technologies before 2027. This paper highlights a range of key considerations and provides recommendations for the industry to support and prepare for Open RAN’s next phase.

It is clear from the survey results that operators believe vRAN can offer better support than traditional RAN for almost all of their commercial objectives. This includes both operational goals and those relating to new revenue generation, differentiation and quality of experience (QoE). However, there are still efforts needed from the industry to accelerate progress and ensure Open RAN moves quickly to wider deployments. These include refocusing efforts on new and evolving challenges, and proving that Open RAN’s capabilities are driving business value in real-world deployments. These efforts will only be maximised where the industry incorporates operator commercial objectives as the central consideration in their technical innovation and deployments, and aligns them with Open RAN’s key strengths in agility, flexibility and automation that are facilitated by a full cloud platform. 

Open RAN progress drives confidence it will deliver on operators’ strategic objectives

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James Kirby

Senior Analyst

Caroline Gabriel

Research Director, expert in network and cloud strategies and architecture

Stephen Burton

Research Analyst

Gorkem Yigit

Research Director