Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) is a new approach to building the mobile networks that are needed to connect smartphones and other devices to the internet and other users. Traditional RAN solutions generally require telecommunications operators to work with single suppliers across an entire mobile site. This approach can be a barrier to entry for smaller suppliers that might not have the financial requirements or the resources to build and manage solutions across the entire RAN ecosystem (e.g. radio antenna, baseband units, CU/DU servers, management and orchestration software etc.).
Open RAN technology enables the creation of all software and hardware components of the RAN to be built to industry-wide specifications, ensuring interoperability between each component. This means telecommunications operations can choose the best solution providers for each component, safe in the knowledge that components will work together and the rest of the network (i.e. able to exchange data and information).
This added flexibility will also allow Vodafone to become more software-orientated as upgrade paths of each of the different components are decoupled. Introducing new software, features and services becomes much simpler, faster and more cost effective.
Ultimately, the aim of OpenRAN is to widen the pool of suppliers in the RAN ecosystem, while simultaneously lowering the barrier of entry for smaller companies and specialists. In time, a wider pool of suppliers will encourage greater competition, which will in turn lower the cost of delivering connectivity solutions and provide a catalyst for innovation.
Pioneered by Vodafone and its partners, Open RAN will drive greater innovation through a diverse and open vendor ecosystem. It will lead to a more cost-effective, secure, energy efficient and customer-focused network of the future.