Home > Technical Articles > Open RAN and 5G
When it comes to Open RAN (O-RAN), it is worthwhile to spend some time on reviewing the history of telecommunication market before coming to the details of the underneath technology. Date back to October 2009 when Rajeev Suri was appointed as the CEO of NSN (later Nokia), he had predicted that the global telecommunications equipment market could only have two or three major players left in playing the game after a few years. Everyone was skeptical about the prediction at that time. The number of the major market players at the beginning of 2010 was much more than 3: Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent from the USA, Nokia-Siemens and Ericsson from the Europe, and Huawei, ZTE from China. Amazingly the prediction became true. In July, 2010, NSN bought Motorola’s wireless network business for $1.2B; in July, 2013, Nokia agreed to buy Siemens’ 50% stake in their joint venture for $2.2B; in April, 2015, Nokia agreed to combined with Alcatel-Lucent for a price of $16.5B. After the com bination, the remaining market players were Nokia, Ericsson from Europe, and Huawei, ZTE from China. However, in the next a few years Huawei had continued to consolidate its maker leader position with an increasing market share globally. No one would have doubted that, even there would be another merge or combination in future, Huawei and ZTE from China would still cer tainly grow their market shares against Nokia and Ericsson. However, we are wrong and this trend has been reverted because, the America government has jumped in and the O-RAN is born.
In the welcome remarks at the FCC forum on 5G open radio access network on Sep 14, 2020, FCC chairman Ajit V. Pai had stated that, the 5G technolo gies would be embedded in almost every aspect of the society and economy – from business to homes, hospitals to transportation networks, manufactur ing to the power grid. However, carriers in the USA building out 5G networks rightfully had been always worrying that Huawei equipment could expose them to security risk. In addition to these security issues, carriers in the world might be concerned by a relatively consolidated marketplace. Technological innova tion had opened a new path to address these concerns. That technology was, Open Radio Access Networks, or Open RANs. Open RANs could transform 5G network architecture, costs, and security.
In another remark from FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, he also pointed out that, American leadership in telecom network hardware market unfortu nately disappeared over time. American telecom carriers were eventually left without a reasonable domestic option. However, Open RAN networks might be part of the solution. FCC commissioners were advocating for the devel opment and use of software-enabled, virtualized 5G infrastructure to replace suspect equipment, because, America had long been a technology leader in software and wireless technology. Growing America capability to make secure infrastructure made sense from both a security and an economic standpoint. In a word, the birth of O-RAN is the outcome of the ‘America First’ policy.