GSMA and O-RAN Alliance join forces to open up 5G networks

Published: 29 May 2020 - 8:16 a.m.

Two of the telecoms industry’s biggest trade and research bodies have joined forces to fast track the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions that take advantage of new open virtualised architectures, software and hardware.

The GSMA and O-RAN Alliance will work together to harmonise the open networking ecosystem and agree on an industry roadmap for network solutions, thereby making access networks as open and flexible as possible for new market entrants.

5G will facilitate the opportunity to create even more agile, purpose-built networks tailored to the different needs of citizens, enterprises and society. For example, 5G is an essential ingredient of the European Commission's recently launched Industrial Strategy and will help shape its future.

"When 5G reaches its potential, it will become the first generation of mobile networks to have a bigger impact on enterprises than consumers," said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer, GSMA.

"In the enterprise sector alone, we forecast $700 billion worth of economic value to be created by the 5G opportunity. The growth of the open networking ecosystem will be essential to meeting enterprise coverage and services needs in the 5G era."

In its latest Mobile Economy Report, the GSMA predicts that operators will invest more than a trillion dollars over the next five years globally to serve both consumer and enterprise customers, 80 per cent of which will be on 5G networks.

"As the demand for data and vastly expanded mobile communications grow in the 5G era, a global, cross-border approach is needed to rethink the RAN," said Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance, and executive vice president and chief technology officer, AT&T.

"The GSMA collaboration with the O-RAN Alliance is exactly the sort of global effort that's needed for everyone, operators and vendors alike, to succeed in this new generation."

Mobile operators are re-evaluating the way that their networks are deployed. New virtualised architectures with open interfaces can drive cost efficiencies and allow operators to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. Also, open interfaces can help diversify and reinvigorate the supply chain promoting competition and innovation - for example, by building and operating a RAN based on mix-and-match components from different vendors.

The GSMA and O-RAN Alliance collaboration complements the recently announced interworking between the GSMA and Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and the O-RAN Alliance and TIP. The goal for these collaborations is to help avoid fragmentation and accelerate the successful evolution of the industry towards a more intelligent, open, virtualised and fully interoperable RAN.

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