Since its inception, the idea of open radio access network (RAN) - its promise and viability - has created some debate. Many see open RAN as an avenue for expanding the limited ecosystem for communications infrastructure and an opportunity for the U.S. to establish a 5G network using more domestic technology. Others, however, are skeptical that an open ecosystem can deliver the complex integration that is required for state-of-the-art 5G networks or realize the much-lauded potential of open RAN.

As 5G networks continue to be activated across the world, Analog Devices is working with customers to develop solutions from base stations to radios, supporting businesses and suppliers of all sizes. And, within each customer interaction we hear real excitement for the potential and possibilities of open RAN, and a deep willingness to tackle the challenges ahead. We believe that, through continued partnership, the telecom industry will realize the promise of open RAN and unleash three areas of significant opportunity.

First, by opening up the RAN infrastructure and creating interoperability, we will see an influx in innovation. More specialized companies will emerge to address leading edge applications which will, in turn, create more growth in currently underserved markets. Open RAN creates the flexibility needed for innovation to come from not just a single supplier, but from multiple parties, expanding opportunities for new services within the network. With interoperability at the higher system level, open RAN will create more functional solutions that enable additional types of network deployments.

Second, this boon to innovation will create more vendor security. Over the past 20 years, market and industry conditions drove significant consolidation leaving operators few options. In an open RAN system, more vendors can supply critical components to the network without needing to deliver an entire network solution, creating an environment that fosters supplier diversity.

Third, virtualized RAN (vRAN) is a key element of open RAN in which RAN will run as software on the cloud. This will allow all parties to benefit from the cost efficiencies of a virtualized network. Early deployments of vRAN demonstrate a lower operating expense and greater flexibility, creating further opportunity for innovation. Importantly, this lower op-ex creates scalability that has the potential to improve network access in geographic areas that have not historically enjoyed the latest and greatest network technology.

Every game-changing innovation has hurdles and challenges, but for us the benefits of open RAN are clear. It will enable flexible and multi-vendor deployments, faster innovation, automated operational network functions and more. In short, it’s a way for us to optimize and extend the true potential of 5G.


Will Open RAN Work?

Now On Demand

This Open RAN panel discusses and debates the pros and cons of Open Radio Access Networks from a components and sub-systems point of view along with testing challenges and solutions.

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