Saturday, 30 May 2020

Introducing the Open RAN Policy Coalition

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 06 May 20

A wide range of companies have joined forces to promote Open Ran technologies among government policy makers

A new Open RAN organisation is bursting onto the scene, backed by a host of operators and hardware companies alike. The new Open RAN Policy Coalition will focus on lobbying government bodies to accelerate the integration of the carrier-neutral technology, which it claims is a solution to 5G security concerns, such as those surrounding Huawei…

A new Open RAN organisation is bursting onto the scene, backed by a host of operators and hardware companies alike. The new Open RAN Policy Coalition will focus on lobbying government bodies to accelerate the integration of the carrier-neutral technology, which it claims is a solution to 5G security concerns, such as those surrounding Huawei. 
 
Announced members of the Coalition include: Airspan, Altiostar, AT&T, AWS, Cisco, CommScope, Dell, Dish Network, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, Mavenir, Microsoft, NEC, NewEdge Signal Solutions, NTT, Oracle, Parallel Wireless, Qualcomm, Rakuten, Samsung Electronics America, Telefonica, US Ignite, Verizon, VMWare, Vodafone, World Wide Technology, and XCOM-Labs.
 
This is not the first team effort from the sector to promote open RAN in some form or another. The Telecom Infra Project was formed in 2016, with the adoption of Open Ran technology a key focus. Similarly, the O-RAN Alliance, formed in 2018, has seen similar success, counting 23 operators currently within its ranks alongside around 150 additional contributors.
 
However, these previous organisations primarily focus on advancing the technology surrounding Open RAN and developing standards for its usage, while the new Coalition will instead target government policy makers in an attempt to gain national support.
 
Some countries are likely to be far more receptive to this technology than others. The US, for example, has been very vocal in calling for the alternatives to Huawei 5G equipment and Open RAN technology could provide the perfect solution, dramatically broadening the supply chain and removing the reliance on traditional vendors.
 
As Vodafone CTO Johan Wibergh explained: “The lack of supplier diversity for network equipment lies at the heart of the concerns over the resilience and security of critical national infrastructure.”
 
However, major vendors like Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia have been somewhat sceptical about the threat posed by Open RAN, suggesting that the technology is simply less advanced than their own solutions. 
 
While this sentiment is probably true for now, if government support (and funding) can be secured for Open RAN projects, then open-source, modular infrastructure could greatly shift the market.
 
 
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