Mobile Experts releases First Forecast of Open RAN Deployment

Top operators to utilize open RAN specifications…but not how you expect

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Taking a cue from the internet web-scale market, the mobile industry is moving toward 'openness.' But, what exactly does that mean? Mobile Experts released a report this week that takes a close look into the concept of openness in the Radio Access Network (RAN), and explains the which operators will deploy mobile networks based on Open RAN standards, and which operators will not.

"For RAN, the first step is an open standard between the Radio Unit (RU, also called RRH) and the Distributed Unit (DU, also known as the BBU in LTE). A standard will be developed between the DU and the Central Unit, which covers the higher layer of baseband processing for control path signals. These changes will make possible the virtualization of the CU and/or DU, ultimately reducing the cost of hardware and software," commented Principal analyst, Joe Madden.

Mobile Experts interviewed more than 30 different organizations to understand the upcoming decision of mobile operators with regard to the RU-DU interface. Experts in the core network have a lot of faith in the potential for virtualization and commoditization of radio functions, but the experts in the radio portion of the network remain more skeptical.

"The Open RAN Alliance will be taking the lead on development of an RU-DU interface standard that will be much more comprehensive than the CPRI pseudo-standard," commented Madden. "TIP, eCPRI, and IEEE will support this work with technical documentation, synchronization standards, and architectural/open source hardware reference designs.

"In the end, there are two questions:  Will operators use the Open RAN and eCPRI standards in specifying base stations, and will they actually buy RU and DU products separately? This report answers those questions."

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