Open vRAN Brings Scalability and Simplicity to Mobile Networks
Operators can leverage orchestration to deliver highly personalized services and an exceptional digital experience.
Throughout the 2G, 3G and 4G eras, traditional distributed RAN deployments went largely unchanged until the concept of c-RAN (centralized RAN) started to change the way Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) thought about how (and where) the functions of the radio access are performed. However, one of the limits of c-RAN is its limited scalability. The inevitable next step for the RAN was to harness the power of the telco cloud with virtualized network methodology by running virtualized baseband functions on a pool of cloud processing power and commodity server hardware, based on the principles of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).
Using Open vRAN principles, MNOs are disaggregating hardware and software in the RAN and implementing a platform model that allows for deployment of microservices, automation, applications and services. By doing this, they start to align the RAN with the core automation characteristics of a modernized BSS/OSS architecture. This means that orchestration can be used in an end-to-end fashion for both standard LTE services and for more complex 5G-specific services types. There is also a large benefit from removing network domain silos and harmonizing whole network architecture by managing and orchestrating from a single platform.
Orchestration Brings Service-level Intelligence to the RAN
Operators are looking to Open vRAN for instant cost savings in the large network Capex investments that are currently being made around the world. Separating network functions from processing hardware in the RAN means that several vendors would be able to run their RAN solution on the same hardware or cloud, vastly increasing flexibility for the MNO and promoting an open multivendor network environment.
In this virtualized multivendor RAN, MNOs will be able to ensure that they have the right resources in the right places at the right times, using network domain orchestration (NDO). Extending NDO out into the RAN allows MNOs to have full control over service lifecycle management and resource management through the core, transport, x-haul and radio access network domains. Fully automating these processes from end-to-end is a huge jump forward in the management of transport and access networks for many MNOs.
The optimization of both network functionality and service management capabilities that an Open vRAN solution provides allows network operators to not only start designing incredible new high-value services but also boost customer experience related to current and future services. This paves the way for a more connected relationship with customers as more personalized services start to emerge in the 5G era.
Open vRAN allows MNOs to push a more customized service agenda for their customers on both the consumer and B2B sides of the company, which will allow them to finally connect the intelligence stored in the BSS systems with the network characteristics connecting each individual customer. By combining customer experience benefits with reduced Opex and Capex and increased operational efficiency, Open vRAN is clearly a very interesting proposition for CSPs.