Why OpenRAN Is Going To Be The Fulcrum Of Future Innovation In Communications Network

Rajesh Mishra, Co-founder, President and CTO, Parallel Wireless Rajesh is a visionary who, together with the other company founders, accurately identified the need for easy to deploy, resilient and cost effective LTE network architecture that would overcome many of the legacy technical challenges associated with wireless communications the foundation upon which Parallel Wirelesswas born.

In the last few years, OpenRAN technology has gained momentum and continues to gain wider acceptance from telecom service providers across the globe.

Several global telcos including Vodafone and Telefonica, have initiated the process of transforming their networks with OpenRAN. The technology will also be used for Rakuten's network in Japan.While Rakuten's network is a greenfield deployment, Vodafone plans to upgrade its entire mobile cell-site footprint of 120,000 base stations in the UK, Mozambique, DRC, and Turkey with OpenRAN technology. Telefonica used the technology to provide internet in remote and rural areas, as part of Internet para todos project to make internet accessible in yet-to-be connected regions.

The service providers are re-imagining the networks by leveraging OpenRAN to enhance efficiency improve the quality of services and to bring down the cost of network deployment and management.

The coming years are further likely to drive the adoption of OpenRAN technology across the globe. The growing interest in technology means that future innovations are likely to be centered around OpenRAN. Platforms like Facebook's Telecom Infra Project(TIP), formed with the vision of driving innovation in communications network architecture, further promise to fuel innovation in this.

It can then be said that the OpenRAN is a disrupting force and promises to bring a paradigm shift in the way communications networks are deployed. It is emerging as a strong and better alternative to the traditional RAN ecosystem, and it is for this reason that recently, a bill was tabled in the US, to invest $1 billion to drive the development of the OpenRAN technology.

Leveraging OpenRAN to Evolve From CSP to DSP
It is easy to see why the telcos are adopting this innovative technology. A key reason why OpenRAN is transformational is that it is crucial to helping telcos move from Communications Service Provider (CSP) to Digital Service Provider (DSP). This transformation is vital to
help them address the requirement of new age subscribers, who expects ubiquitous coverage and high speed broadband all the time.

Evolving into a DSP helps the service providers to reduce network complexity and cost and also leverage newer opportunities like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Smart Cities. This is also crucial for them to enhance network efficiency as margins continue to fall.

It can then be said that the OpenRAN is a disrupting force and promises to bring a paradigm shift in the way communications networks are deployed

Software-centric approach for simplicity and enhancing network economics
It is also enabling the service providers to move away from hardware centric monolithic to software powered networks for more agility, flexibility and simplicity. OpenRAN's software approach ensures that telcoscan easily upgrade thei network infrastructure and quickly move from 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G.

Typically, the service providers adopt a siloed approach of adding a new layer for every new G. The new OpenRAN approach allows the telcos to do away with this. The most significant advantage of the OpenRAN is that it enables service providers to improve network economics by converging all G's, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, on one single software platform. It not only helps in enhancing network simplicity but brings down the cost of managing and maintaining the network.

The software centric approach further means that the telcos are able to automate the networks for 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Besides, inherently OpenRAN encourages openness, ensuring that the telcos are not locked in with one particular vendor.

OpenRAN uses the principles of Virtualization to disaggregate hardware and software to enhance efficiency and to bring down the cost. “The introduction of Network Function Virtualisation is a core structural change in the telecommunication infrastructure marketplace. NFV will bring cost efficiencies time-to-market improvements new business models and services and increased innovation to the telecommunication industry infrastructure and applications,” says a study paper on Network Functions Virtualization and Its Impact on Future Telecom Networks by Telecom Engineering Center, part of Department of Telecommunications.

It spurs much needed competition in the RAN space. This promises to drive innovation and bring in newer ways to set up a communications network that will emerge. New players like Parallel Wireless promise to truly revolutionize the network architecture.

It is an exciting time for the telecom professionals as they get to be a part of a movement against the traditional way of deploying RAN. The commercial deployments of OpenRAN will gather pace in the coming years and this means that this segment will be the fulcrum of innovation. The skill requirement of the industry will change and the workforce needs to adapt itself to the changing demand.

As technology becomes mainstream there will be an increasing requirement of a workforce with virtualization know-how. The telecom professionals who want to be a part of innovations that promise to bring about a paradigm shift in the way networks are set and managed will do well to acquire new skill sets.

The OpenRAN technology promises to transform the communications network for bringing improved network and cost efficiency. As the growing OpenRAN ecosystem continues to disrupt the traditional way of deploying communications networks it is time to reskill and retrain to work with the avantgarde of innovation in the communications industry.