O-RAN plan to expand does not impress John Strand
The Open Ran Alliance has announced a recipe of directives for its members to follow but one analyst has predicted that the word salad may not be to everyone’s tastes.
In a statement O-RAN announced it has released version 002 of its Minimum Viable Plan which aims to enable an [unexplained] Open RAN Intelligence function. The statement also announces that 40 O-RAN specifications have been published since November 2021. In other news, there are two O-RAN Global PlugFests planned in 2022 to extend the testing and integration. Dates were not given.
The most significant news is that the First O-RAN specification has been submitted to become a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the European standards organisation ETSI.
Paul Smith, director network analytics & automation at AT&T Labs told LightReading that O-RAN is very much a work in progress. “I think, all in all, we’ve made a lot of good progress so far,” said Smith, who is also co-chair of O-RAN’s WG1, a group that handles much of the alliance’s core work on O-RANs, including network architecture, network slicing and use cases.
“This is becoming an actual standard that the industry is working toward, which I think is really important,” Smith said of the O-RAN Alliance’s first batch of ETSI specifications. ETSI handles a vast range of telecom specifications, from SIM cards to satellites.
Smith said the O-RAN Alliance plans to significantly expand its testing and integration efforts, a key element of the association’s overall goal of making interoperable networking components. The alliance now has six Open Testing and Integration Centers (OTICs), which provide open and impartial working environments for open RAN vendors. Four are in Europe, one is in Taiwan and one in China. Expect one in North America this year, said Smith, though he refused to specify where.
However, analyst John Strand, of Strand Consult, issued a briefing that questions if the pace change is convincing. “Everyone talks about OpenRAN; no one buys it,” began Strand’s analysis.
“When you hear smaller players like Mavenir and Parallel Wireless, it is clear that they are panicking that they are not getting the orders that they have probably promised their boards,” said Strand, who has released a review of O-RAN’s performance at Mobile World Congress.
“After some years, OpenRAN has yet to notch a major commercial success. If OpenRAN gets the growth its proponents predict, it will account for less than 1 percent of the 5G mobile sites in 2025,” said Strand. By 2030 this would represent around three per cent of 5G’s installed base. “It looks like OpenRAN is too little, too late to make a difference in a world where operators deploy 10,000 classic 5G sites every month,” said Strand.