Benefits of Open RAN for Industry 4.0

Author: ZackW
Date: January 27,2022

When a handful of vendors dominates a market, it generally bodes ill for customer choice and customer economics. This is most certainly the case for the Mobile 4G/5G Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment market, where, by some accounts, three vendors control almost 80% of the market and five account for nearly 95% of the market.

Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) standards confront this problem by supporting interoperability between equipment and software from different RAN vendors. RANs have traditionally been proprietary systems, with a given RAN being built entirely using equipment and software from a single supplier. Open RAN provides an alternative to being locked into a single vendor when building a RAN, enabling network operators and enterprises to mix-and-match best-of-breed RAN elements using open white box hardware and software from different vendors.

A diagram showing Open RAN’s architecture and interfaces is shown in Figure 1, below.

Open RAN Architecture

Figure 1: Open RAN Architecture

Components of this architecture include:

O-RAN offers:

With these advances, Open RAN will enable the RAN to scale in a manner similar to the way hyperscalers implemented scaling in the cloud. According to the O-RAN Alliance, “[O-RAN aims] to bring cloud scale economics to the RAN.”

Open RAN Benefits for Private 5G Networks

While Open RAN was initially targeted at mobile carriers, it is now starting to be leveraged by more disruptive and innovative approaches for enterprise 5G networks. In private 5G networks, Open RAN can bring significant cost and performance advantages by enabling:

In sum, Open RAN provides significant value to enterprises for their private 5G networks as well as to traditional mobile network operators.

Summary

Open RAN brings big economic and technical benefits to enterprise private 5G networks by fostering vendor choice, enabling use of white box hardware and open source software, providing flexibility in choosing spectrum and RAN architecture, and supporting functional evolution as users’ requirements change. 

This post, the fourth in a series, is an expanded excerpt from the Ananki white paper “Enabling Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 with Private 5G”. Register to view the complete white paper. 

Further Reading

What Are the Open RAN Standards?” SDX Central

O-RAN Architecture, Nodes, and Interfaces” Rimedo Labs

O-RAN: Towards an Open and Smart RAN” O-RAN Alliance

Open RAN Functional Splits, Explained” 5G Technology World

SD-RAN: ONF’s Software-Defined RAN Platform Consistent with the O-RAN Architecture” Open Networking Foundation

O-RAN Use Cases and Deployment Scenarios” O-RAN Alliance

CI/CD in O-RAN” Rimedo Labs

 

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