The Road to Open RAN
December 3, 2021

The Road to Open RAN is not easy one, there are a series of steps should be taken before migration or starting design the network architecture based on Open RAN. Either you’re a green field needs to start a new network from scratch or even a brown field and re-think of the open RAN concept, there are many embracing technologies that will improve the RAN design.

The Path to Open RAN

The Open RAN strategy starts by the long term goal and how you can achieve the powerful combination of innovation, agility and performance. 

The Road to Open RAN (Source: VMware)

There are many domains with different steps as below:

  1. Hardware
    It’s mandatory to migrate from Proprietary Hardware which leads to lock-in issue and suffered from chronic high costs to Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Hardware by combining general-purpose commercial products in comparison with specialized products developed and manufactured for a specific purpose.
    Sometimes It’s a better to use some Accelerators such as FPGAs, SmartNICs and GPUs, to reduce latency and improve bandwidth. 
  2. Software
    In the past the software for the baseband unit (BBU) is one, after that it’s disaggregated to CU and DU which each one has it own software and can be placed in different data center (Central Data Center and Edge Data Center).
  3. Virtualization
    Virtualization the RAN means decoupling the radio software from the underlying hardware by running it on a virtualization layer which means virtualization the BBUs so they can run as software on generic, IT industry standard hardware.
    The BBU is split in multiple virtual functions, the virtual Distributed Unit (vDU) and the virtual Centralized Unit (vCU) and optionally the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC).

Now with this decoupling between Software and Hardware, services can now scale up and down as needed, also the ability to shift from proprietary to COTS hardware will allow MNOs to reduce their Cost ( CaPEX and Opex) and improve the multi-vendor selection by diversifies the software and hardware from different vendors. 

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