US operators outline open RAN challenges - Mobile World Live

US operators outline open RAN challenges

10 SEP 2021

Verizon and AT&T expressed enthusiasm for open RAN at an industry conference devoted to the topic, but executives from both outlined hurdles which need to be cleared before they begin deployments.

Speaking at the FierceWireless Open RAN Summit, AT&T VP of network analytics and automation Raj Savoor said it expects to start indoor deployments of open RAN roughly a year from now.

Trials are “giving us confidence” in the technology, he explained adding much of the hardware AT&T is deploying in its network “actually has the features of open RAN built into it”.

The software needed to “unlock those capabilities” is still in development, he noted citing the service management orchestrator (SMO) and RAN intelligent controller (RIC) as elements AT&T needs to be able to deploy.

“There’s a lot of active work in those areas”.

Adam Koeppe, SVP of technology planning at Verizon, explained it is “focused on commercialising an operationally sound open RAN architecture”.

“Generally speaking, there are economic, commercial and technical challenges inherent in the standards process”. Koeppe listed objections from existing equipment suppliers, research and development required from smaller suppliers, a need for standardisation of management interfaces and a requirement for a structured approach to ongoing enhancements.

The Verizon executive argued open RAN “needs to be a well-oiled machine and continue to deliver advanced RAN capabilities”.

Koeppe also noted the higher operational costs which may be associated with open RAN versus traditional architectures. “There will be increasing complexity and integration costs associated with integrating different components at scale and ensuring interoperability at the level of reliability that customers demand.”

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Martha DeGrasse

Freelance tech journalist Martha DeGrasse (@mardegrasse) is delighted to be contributing to Mobile World Live. Martha has written for a number of telecom and wireless publications, and was a writer, editor and video producer at RCR Wireless News for almost...

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