Operators warn against open RAN pitfalls at TIP forum

Operators warn of open RAN fragmentation risk

18 NOV 2021

Executives from Orange and BT Group warned a Telecom Infra Project (TIP) forum of a risk of fragmentation in open RAN if the approach is not carefully managed and coordinated, noting vendors require clear guidance on the direction to take.

During the TIP Insights 2021 event, Orange head of software and RAN architecture Atoosa Hatefi noted there are already variances in the approach to open RAN which could ultimately result in fragmentation.

She argued this risk makes it “important to move from standardised to prioritised” approaches in open RAN specifications.

Paul Crane, converged network research director at BT and a member of TIP’s technical committee, concurred, noting a “need to provide clarity and certainty and avoid fragmentation”.

He noted TIP is currently involved in 35 tests and trials, and had published more than 40 technical requirement specification documents this year.

Providing guidance for vendors is an objective for TIP, along with testing and validation of disaggregated network equipment.

Hatefi cited a push by Orange and four other major European operators as a means of preventing open RAN fragmentation, noting the companies plan to communicate priorities to the broader market, solicit feedback and then “rely on TIP to develop, test and certify in line with our needs”.

But she cautioned vigilance was required to “avoid new vendor lock-in with open RAN”.

Crane cited the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) as “probably the most interesting component” of open RAN, because it could allow operators “to focus on the customer experience” by using APIs to implement RAN policy and segregate service levels.

“It is early days and there is going to be a lot of work to do to make sure ambition comes to fruition and we don’t suffer from getting back to a vendor lock-in”.

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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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