Open RAN: ready for prime time?

06 April 2021 | Research

Caroline Gabriel

Perspective | PDF (23 pages) | Operator Investment Strategies| Next-Generation Wireless Networks

"Open RAN has exciting potential, but the ecosystem needs to address some key economic and technological issues to enable it to be robust enough for 5G macro networks."



The interest in the emerging concept of Open RAN is growing as operators start to evaluate cloud-based RAN infrastructure and to explore more deployment options for 5G. Various industry groups, consisting of established and new vendors and operators, are working on specifications to support a new RAN architecture and management platform that takes a more disaggregated approach than the classical 3GPP view of RAN.

There are many different ways to implement a virtualised RAN (vRAN), and there are multiple different open interfaces that may or may not be supported. This paper will specifically examine Open RAN architecture for vRAN in which the base station functions are split into three units (central unit, distributed unit and radio unit). We take into consideration the proposed O-RAN alliance specification of an open fronthaul connection to allow for the potential deployment of radio units (RUs) and distributed units (DUs) from different vendors. Open RAN also introduces a new element, the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC).

Open RAN: ready for prime time?



Caroline Gabriel

Research Director, expert in network and cloud strategies and architecture