February 9, 2022

InTune with...OpenRAN

At the start of 2022 the RFS team worked with industry influencers to define our top 10 tech trends for 2022. We’ll be revealing the top 10 ahead of MWC, but as a flavour of some of the areas we will be covering, Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing and Transformation Director at RFS looks at one of the most obvious trends for 2022 – OpenRAN.

Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing Director

1. We all know 2022 will be a big year for OpenRAN, but can you give us some insight into what about OpenRAN will make it such a disruptor?

The report from Dell’Oro released earlier this year does a very good job of putting OpenRAN into context. It predicts the technology will account for 15% of overall radio access network revenue by 2026 with the adoption currently surpassing expectations. As an industry there is a huge incentive to make this work. The greater flexibility and lower costs that are touted as the key benefits of OpenRAN will help operators tremendously as they look to roll out 5G and ensure their networks are able to keep pace with the demand for capacity and coverage. OpenRAN as a technology, is a true disruptor. This is namely due to the fact it completely changes the business model for RAN solutions. It takes it out of the hands of a relatively small number and broadens the ecosystem to deliver more variety, competition, and innovation. There are possible pitfalls of course, but overall, the potential benefits far outweigh these. 

2. In 2020, Light Reading described OpenRAN as the Everest of inflated expectations - would you say it has progressed on the hype cycle?

We’ve certainly moved on in terms of where OpenRAN currently sits as a technology since 2020 and we’re at a turning point where we will start to see which of the expectations will be realised, and which are perhaps inflated. Exactly how this will break down will depend on a number of factors; how well optimized OpenRAN solutions are, how much operators embrace this approach and the how quickly they are able to see a return on investment. Get these elements right and what appeared to be inflated expectations in 2020 may well be realised, and quickly. However, if we as an industry miss the mark on any one of those factors, it is likely that the expectations of OpenRAN will remain a pipe dream for some time. 

3. So how does RFS fit into the OpenRAN ecosystem?

For decades and through numerous generations of wireless technology standards, RFS has been a key player supporting the evolution and simplification of RAN technology. We have 120 years’ experience in this space, giving us a very full understanding of the needs of our existing and future customer base and we’ve always focused on developing customer-centric solutions to meet their needs. This is no different, and we are co-driving the OpenRAN innovation by engaging and collaborating with incumbent as well as new players along the mobile network value chain, both in radio access as well as in microwave backhaul technology. This approach makes the most of our long-standing expertise in antenna, cable and mobile wireless connectivity applications. We take this and use it to design CAPEX and OPEX optimized solutions for the OpenRAN ecosystem. 

For newer, agile, and innovative OpenRAN players we are a reliable and knowledgeable partner that can advise on RAN evolution and optimization, ensuring the depth of network and RF knowledge to deliver OpenRAN success.

4. Where do you see OpenRAN development by the end of 2022?

The development of OpenRAN will be determined by one key factor – collaboration. This is a technology that needs industry wide effort and for companies to work collaboratively, building solutions that take advantage of each contributor’s expertise and strengths. Collaboration and a broader ecosystem that takes into consideration a wider range of innovations than any previous radio access technology is at the heart of OpenRAN and embracing this approach will be key to its success, not just in 2022, but moving forward. 

If you’d like to hear more about how RFS’s work in the OpenRAN space, get in touch with Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing and Transformation Director.