How Open RAN solutions are defining CSP innovation

A compelling combination of economic drivers, advancements in AI and Open RAN technology maturity are catalyzing the technology’s adoption.

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Tanya White, Product Marketing Manager, Amdocs Mobile Network Services


21 Feb 2024

How Open RAN solutions are defining CSP innovation

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As the integration of Open RAN drives our industry towards more adaptive and innovative networks, its impact on the CSP ecosystem is becoming increasingly defined.

According to a recent report by 5G Americas, the exponential growth of Open RAN deployments is only set to continue, with projections indicating nearly 1.3 million Open RAN cell sites globally by the decade’s end. This signifies a shift from initial ventures in greenfield projects by innovators such as Rakuten and Dish to more widespread adoption in brownfield deployments across diverse geographies.

To put things into perspective, the transition to Open RAN involves both challenges and benefits. Let’s first look at the benefits:

  • Creating and innovating services: Gaining agility to innovate and deploy new services rapidly.
  • Establishing a new ecosystem: Designing an open, collaborative environment for innovation.
  • Ensuring flexibility: eliminating vendor lock-in to enhance network adaptability.
  • Adopting a multi-vendor approach: Leveraging the best solutions from various providers for each aspect of the RAN.
  • Expanding rural and remote coverage: OpenRAN's flexibility and cost-effectiveness make it particularly suitable for deploying and expanding mobile networks in rural and remote areas where traditional RAN solutions may be economically unfeasible.

In addition to the above, there is also a compelling combination of economic drivers, advancements in AI and Open RAN technology maturity, as well as numerous Open RAN deployment announcements that are catalyzing the technology’s adoption.

Now, let’s consider the challenges:

  • Achieving technology maturity: Addressing the early-stage development of Open RAN technology to ensure reliability and optimal performance.
  • Integrating complex systems: Managing the complexity of combining components from multiple vendors and the proliferation of cell sites, traffic and devices.
  • Disaggregating the RAN: Efficiently breaking down the RAN into RU, CU, DU, and RIC for enhanced network management.
  • Optimizing costs: Reducing CAPEX and OPEX without compromising network quality and coverage.
  • Expanding coverage: Ensuring network accessibility in underserved communities to bridge the digital divide.

Furthermore, in navigating the actual transition to Open RAN, CSPs may encounter two significant, additional hurdles:

  • Skills shortage: As the industry progresses towards the next generation of mobile networking, the demand for skilled professionals in areas such as 5G, Open RAN, cloud-native computing, edge computing, and new development environments intensifies. Finding employees with the necessary expertise can pose a significant challenge.
  • Lack of automation: Overcoming network challenges and fully realizing the advantages of Open RAN hinges on the implementation of automation in network design, deployment, and management processes.

"For those planning their own move to Open RAN, it’s crucial to recognize that...a system integrator is key."

The above notwithstanding, in pursuit of a competitive edge, many CSPs have concluded that Open RAN’s benefits far outweigh the challenges. Noteworthy deployment plans include AT&T’s plan to lead the United States in commercial scale open RAN deployment with a spend close to $14 billion over the five-year term of the contract with Ericsson. Their plan is for 70% of its wireless network traffic to flow across open-capable platforms by late 2026 . In addition, Vodafone’s goal is to deploy 2,500 open RAN sites and will issue a request for quotes for openRAN technology across its entire global footprint, which is 170,000 sites.

For those planning their own move to Open RAN, it’s crucial to recognize that when faced with the complexity of managing a new, open ecosystem with a multi-vendor, disaggregated mobile access network, a system integrator is key. Such a partner can navigate you through the intricacies of this evolving network landscape. Yet any partner must have the capabilities to address the skills gap, facilitate the deployment of Open RAN solutions that harness the strengths of a multi-vendor environment, and ensure thorough testing – from lab to field – prior to deployment. Such skills are invaluable in achieving the automation of the network lifecycle, incorporating advanced analytics and machine learning within the RAN framework.

Recognizing these challenges and the crucial need for expert guidance, Amdocs has developed a solution to streamline the Open RAN journey. It’s designed to reduce risks associated with the transition to an Open RAN network, drawing on a thorough assessment of product technologies, hardware and software vendors across the ecosystem. It includes system integration services, deployment services, lab services, automation capabilities, and service management and orchestration (SMO), which together ensure a holistic approach to Open RAN implementation.

Success story

DISH successfully deployed and launched the United States’ first cloud-native 5G Open RAN network, a significant achievement in the communications & media industry. This development enabled the company to offer 5G broadband services to over 70 percent of the U.S. population, extending the latest connectivity technologies to more than 240 million Americans. This accomplishment is particularly notable as DISH designed, built, and deployed its 5G network within just three years, including the establishment of over 17,000 5G sites.

To deliver this project, the company collaborated with Amdocs to expedite and streamline the 5G Open RAN network’s rollout. Amdocs’ contributions were key, encompassing the construction of the cloud infrastructure for the RAN and core, along with the complete network setup, all of which facilitated the launch of over 17,000 sites in compliance with FCC mandates. The collaboration focused on:

  • Enhancing cost efficiencies for independent software vendors (ISVs) by optimizing cloud workloads
  • Implementing upgrades for AWS EKS
  • Deploying CI/CD pipelines and private 5G infrastructure
  • Change management
  • Ensuring outage management and troubleshooting capabilities

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