Home5G & BeyondReport condemns false promise of Open RAN

    Report condemns false promise of Open RAN


    ‘Over Run’ does not solve the 5G China challenge

    Western nations are living in a fool’s paradise if they think Open RAN will protect them and the misleading sense of security only makes us more vulnerable, warns a new report. Open RAN could easily be over run, say report authors Jan-Peter Kleinhans and Tim Rühlig.

    The paper, “The false promise of Open RAN Why Open RAN doesn’t solve the “5G China challenge” draws on experience from some of the leading China experts in Europe. The knowledge base for the report comes from the Digital Power China research (DPC) consortium, a gathering of China experts and engineers based in eight European research institutions, universities and think tanks and complemented by a US-based Harvard think tank.

    Authors Jan-Peter Kleinhans and Tim Rühlig acknowledge the widespread concern that the Chinese state ultimately controls technology and that authoritarian leaders could exploit network insecurities and technological. Though something needs to be done, they warn that Open RAN is not an instant fix to these risks and as a cold war tech strategy it actually creates two major pitfalls for the West, namely that it doesn’t necessarily provide better security and it won’t break the Chinese stranglehold on developments. These are outlined in depth in the paper. It concludes with an attempt to map a way out of the crisis by examining the variables and outlining four considerations for policymakers in the EU.

    According to Jan-Peter Kleinhans Chinese suppliers are too well positioned in the Open RAN ecosystem so any natural development will come with chokepoints. Another problem is that the O-RAN Alliance is too easily confused with the objectives of Open RAN, when the former is an operator-led industry consortium driving the development of Open RAN specifications. “In fact, many members of the O-RAN Alliance are less transparent than Huawei, and have clear links to the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA. Some O-RAN Alliance members deliver surveillance technologies to Chinese state institutions in Xinjiang in support of breaching the human rights of Muslim minorities,” says the report.

    The paper is based upon work from Cost Action – the European Cooperation in Science and Technology and the China In Europe Research Network. It includes input from diplomacy experts from the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI); Paris German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Berlin Jacobs University Bremen, Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Berlin Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV), Berlin; Athens University of Economics and Business; University of Insubria, Varese/Como; University of L’Aquila; Riga Stradins University; Clingendael Institute, The Hague Leiden Asia Centre at Leiden University; The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm; The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI), Stockholm; Uppsala University (UU) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge (USA).