OpenRAN interfaces have become an important part of building 5G mobile networks. And it’s not just the greenfield networks and third-world networks that will benefit. This white paper provides some details on how OpenRAN standards will impact almost every 5G network over the next five years. In addition to the greenfield networks that have embraced OpenRAN (Rakuten/Dish) Vodafone, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio, Telefonica, MTN, and other operators have also committed to deployment using OpenRAN standards to realize cost savings, and future proof their networks, and to add flexibility for vendor mixing (widening the supply chain).
Trials conducted by these major players so far indicate that the technology has reached a level of maturity that is ready for commercial networks. The best example is Rakuten in Japan, who has deployed more than 5,000 ‘radio stations’ so far and has already upgraded its network from 4G to 5G, using a collection of at least 18 vendors providing individual components of the network. Rakuten was able to sign up more than a million subscribers in its first three months.
Operators are keen to use OpenRAN standards because they see significant cost savings. In a greenfield deployment scenario, we calculate that the Total Cost of Ownership can be roughly 26% lower for an OpenRAN network, based on more competitive pricing on radio equipment, maintenance contracts, and software. There has been a lot of discussion that OpenRAN networks are not suitable for Brownfield networks.
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.