As networks continue to evolve, Open RAN is gaining traction as a key solution for promoting innovation, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
However, delivering on the vision of Open RAN is not simple. Open interfaces must enable high performance between functions provided by multiple vendors. Virtualized software running on vendor-neutral hardware must scale to support heavy traffic loads and deliver high-quality services, especially to the enterprise.
There have been several efforts to standardize interfaces, particularly in the RAN, for many, many years, and one of the motivations is lower cost. If the interfaces are standard, there is a wider ecosystem of companies providing those individual elements, and that creates competition and ultimately pricing pressure. But the other thing we've seen with O-RAN is that once you have competition, it's not all about cost. It's also about innovation and delivering new technologies. You can see the full promise of 5G and now there's a wider ecosystem that operators can pick and choose from when building their networks.
At Mobile World Congress this year, it was easy to see the sprawling expansion of the ecosystem. As an industry, we have achieved the objective to drive the ecosystem to grow from an O-RAN perspective. All the way from the chipset manufacturers to new network equipment manufacturers, everyone is bringing more innovation.
However, to go to the next level, there are quite a few challenges. If you look at the customers Spirent has spoken to, interviewed, and polled, there still seem to be three main challenges with O-RAN, primarily starting with multi-vendor interoperability.
I spoke with Spirent experts James Kimery and Anil Kollipara to further unpack pressing questions, such as:
With CSPs starting to roll out production of O-RAN architectures, what are the key benefits?
What unique challenges does O-RAN introduce to the market?
What is different aboutand why does it require a fresh approach?
Why is automation critical?
Where can people go to learn more about O-RAN?
exploring the latest techniques for assessing real-world, multi-vendor interoperability and performance to understand why progressive testing - moving from isolated functional tests to full system tests - is a must.