What is O-RAN?

What is an Open Radio Access Network or O-RAN?

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- everything RF

Dec 9, 2020

O-RAN (Open RAN) is the latest model of RAN (Radio Access Network) infrastructure focused on interoperability of RAN components/devices. Traditionally, RAN elements, almost always, used proprietary software and hardware which were vendor specific. This reduced the options that could be used to replace or upgrade the existing system. With the “open” feature of O-RAN, service providers can select hardware with open interfaces from any vendor which suits their specific needs. This increases competition in the market along with operation efficiency because of the increased options.

O-RAN has been gaining momentum in the past couple of years as 5G deployment has now started. To provide quality 5G service, efficiency is one of the biggest factors and O-RAN gives service providers the tool to maximize their system efficiency according to the requirement. Open RAN deployed at the network edge will benefit 5G applications such as autonomous vehicles and the IoT, support network slicing use cases effectively, and enable secure and efficient over-the-air firmware upgrades.

O-RAN Overview

Other benefits of the O-RAN architecture include the ability to utilize machine learning systems and artificial intelligence back end modules to allow network intelligence through open and standardized interfaces in a multi-vendor network.

O-RAN Architecture

O-RAN Alliance

The O-RAN Alliance was founded in February 2018 by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO and Orange. It was founded to re-shape the RAN industry towards a more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile network.

The O-RAN ALLIANCE is active in 3 main areas:

  • The specification effort: New standards for open and intelligent RAN.
  • O-RAN Software Community: Open software development for the RAN (in cooperation with the Linux Foundation).
  • Testing and integration effort: Supporting O-RAN member companies in testing and integration of their O-RAN implementations.

The O-RAN Alliance focuses on technical aspects of the RAN and stays neutral in any political, governmental, or other areas of any country or region. The Alliance does not get involved in any policy-related topics.

Further Reading: O-RAN Use Cases and Deployment Scenarios

Watch this video to better understand Open RAN