A quintet of heavyweight operator groups urged European authorities to take immediate action to stimulate the open RAN sector to ensure the continent does not lag North America and Asia in the 5G era and beyond.

In a joint statement Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telecom Italia and Vodafone Group pressed for regulatory adoption of five recommendations pulled from a wider Analysys Mason report commissioned by the group.

The operators argued moves to secure Europe’s place in the open RAN ecosystem should be “urgently prioritised” by politicians, European Union member states and industry stakeholders, with a call for all parties to collaborate.

“Open, intelligent, virtualised and fully interoperable RAN is essential if Europe is to meet its target of 5G for all by 2030,” the operators stated. “It will help drive stronger, more resilient supply chains and platforms, as well as promote digital autonomy and continued technology leadership.”

Citing conclusions from the Building an open RAN ecosystem for Europe report, the heavyweights said if the continent is to “maintain its competitiveness, technology leadership and resilience, decisive action and collaboration is needed now”.

The report flagged a lack of presence of European vendors in the “six major technology and service categories that comprise the open RAN value chain”, pointing to cloud hardware as one area. A limited number of semiconductor suppliers in the region was also highlighted.

Deutsche Telekom CTIO Claudia Nemat pressed for immediate, decisive action. “In North America and Asia there is strong backing for open RAN. Europe should not fall behind but seek a leading position”.

The five recommendations outlined in the document and advocated by the operator groups include ensuring high-level political support for open RAN and declaring it a strategic priority; creating a regional alliance for next generation communications infrastructure by the European Commission; and tax incentives for local companies working across the open RAN value chain.

The remaining two policies are around promoting European leadership in standardisation of open RAN technology; and working with international partners.

Earlier this year, the five operators agreed to collaborate on promoting open network architecture and published documents outlining technical requirements for open RAN.