An Alternative Way to Build Networks
Delivering 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G OpenRAN to Operators
OpenRAN promises an alternative to the legacy in the radio access network (RAN), one of the costliest parts of the infrastructure. In a traditional RAN, hardware components and software code are tightly coupled, and interfaces do not support interoperability between different vendors. That means nearly all the equipment comes from only one, closed supplier. With the virtualization that OpenRAN brings, operators can run software-based network functions on standard (COTS) servers. Open interfaces allows a new freedom – the use of one supplier’s radios with another’s processors.
OpenRAN is an alternative way of building networks that promises greater interoperability and more competition. The real reason for the incumbents’ apathy is that OpenRAN would introduce competition and threaten their existing business.
OpenRAN Architecture Provides Path To More Secure Open Networks
By adopting a zero-trust security framework, an OpenRAN architecture provides a path to more secure open networks and open interfaces. Despite misconceptions, open interfaces, defined in the O-RAN technical specifications, provide increased independent visibility and the opportunity for an overall enhanced and more secure system.
The Benefits of OpenRAN vRAN
COST SAVINGS. You can build a virtualized network, containerize it and each of the elements can be completely broken down. This modern network can support either tens of subscribers to millions of subscribers. It just depends on how many instances and substantiations of the VNFs can you run on a single platform.
MULTIPLE OPERATORS & NETWORK SHARING. OpenRAN vRAN can run multiple operators using multiple VNFs sitting side-by-side on the same platform to have segregated networks. The other benefit is network sharing in the future through software.
ELIMINATE VENDOR LOCK-IN. OpenRAN breaks open the interface between the remote radio head and the DU. With current legacy vendors, it’s a walled garden and proprietary. Through O-RAN, a fully open interface on Split 7.2 has been defined including all the OEM.
3rd PARTY TESTING BENEFITS. Radios with 3GPP specs on one side and O-RAN specs on the other will work with different vendors’ baseband and because there is a defined specification with 3GPP interfaces, the elements can be tested independently. It takes pressure off operators to test in their own labs. Radios can be purchased from any vendor and tested by independently by a 3rd party and be assured that it works. Soon radios will be produced at low cost on the basis that any operator can buy them and not get locked into a specific system integrator.
Reduce operating and capital expenses, and make your network architecture more flexible with Virtualized RAN from Mavenir.
Virtualized RAN from Mavenir redefines the network architecture, by virtualizing network functions in data centers instead of onsite.
What is OpenRAN?
Open Radio Access Networks, or Open RAN, refers to a disaggregated approach to deploying mobile networks by using open and interoperable protocols and interfaces, which allows for increased flexibility over traditional RAN systems. Open RAN can be implemented with vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology based on open interfaces and industry-developed standards.
In a traditional RAN system, the radio, hardware and software are proprietary. This means that nearly all of the equipment comes from one supplier and that operators are unable to, for example, deploy a network using radios from one vendor with hardware and software from another vendor.
Mixing and matching cell sites from different providers typically leads to a performance reduction. The result is that most network operators, while supporting multiple RAN vendors, will deploy networks using a single vendor in a geographic region.
Open RAN is not a technology, but rather an ongoing shift in mobile network architecture that allows networks to be built using subcomponents from a variety of vendors. The key concept of Open RAN is “opening” the protocols and interfaces between the various subcomponents (radios, hardware and software) in the RAN. As a technical matter this is what the industry refers to as a disaggregated RAN. The benefits of this approach include increased network agility and flexibility, increased innovation and cost savings.
There are three primary elements in the RAN:
- The Radio Unit (RU) is where the radio frequency signals are transmitted, received, amplified and digitized. The RU is located near, or integrated into, the antenna.
- The Distributed Unit (DU) is where the real-time, baseband processing functions reside. The DU can be centralized or located near the cell site.
- The Centralized Unit (CU) is where the less time-sensitive packet processing functions typically reside.
It is the interfaces between the RU, DU and the CU that are the main focus of Open RAN. By opening and standardizing these interfaces (among others in the network), and incentivizing implementation of the same, we move to an environment where networks can be deployed with a more modular design without being dependent upon a single vendor. Making these changes can also allow the DU and CU to be run as virtualized software functions on vendor-neutral hardware.
What is the Difference Between OpenRAN, O-RAN and vRAN?
Disaggregated RAN functionality built using open interface specifications between elements. Can be implemented in vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology based on open interfaces and community-developed standards.
Refers to the O-RAN Alliance or designated specification. O-RAN Alliance is a specification group defining next generation RAN infrastructures, empowered by principles of intelligence and openness.
An implementation of the RAN in a more open and flexible architecture which virtualizes network functions in software platforms based on general purpose processors.
OpenRAN Is Best For You?
To find the most cost-efficient way to deploy OpenRAN in your network, you need to assess multiple factors. A crucial factor is the tradeoff between transport and location. Mavenir and Senza Fili developed a financial model that allows you to compare the OpenRAN TCO for three scenarios that use different transport cost assumptions and show how transport costs may drive network topology decisions.
OpenRAN: Good and Getting Better
This white paper identifies the key parameters that need to be addressed to ensure full integration of OpenRAN solutions into brown field deployments and represent that it will take about 4 years before parity in OpenRAN and legacy deployments ad the respective cost comparisons.