The development of the Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) is gaining momentum. Network operators, new entrants, system integrators, and application developers are working together to unlock the traditional integrated telco supply chain, which has up to now been dominated by a handful of large infrastructure vendors.
And tech market advisory firm ABI Research has done research on this and it expects the total spending on Open RAN radio units (RUs) for the public outdoor macrocell network to reach $69.5 billion in 2030, with cumulative unit shipments expected to reach 15.7 million.
Meanwhile, ABI says that the total revenue of Open RAN RUs for enterprise indoor small cell network would reach as high as $39.8 billion in 2030, with cumulative unit shipments expected to reach 205.5 million.
The key benefits of Open RAN are that it brings multi-vendor interoperability for innovations and reduces time to market for deploying new network functionality.
ABI Research expects that 2G/3G and 4G will be the mainstream focus of Open RAN in the next few years, while 5G Open RAN systems are being developed and matured.
Operators exploiting RAN
ABI Research says that Open RAN, powered by network virtualization, would help network operators and various industrial enterprise verticals enable network automation and intelligent radio resource control, therefore reducing network integration expenses and operational complexity.
More importantly, a robust ecosystem and supply diversity will remove fears and potential security threats to governments and network operators whose telco infrastructures were initially supplied by one or two big vendors, which has led to the unpredictable disruption of supply chains, finds ABI.
Rakuten Mobile, a greenfield network service provider, set a prime example to deploy Open RAN solution. Moreover, Vodafone has also announced its first live Open RAN 4G site in the United Kingdom and partnered with Parallel Wireless.
At the same time, TIP published a playbook to capture the learnings from the trial deployment in Turkey. Apart from those, many other network operators in collaboration with the vendor ecosystem are deploying and testing the solution, namely Dish Network in the U.S., Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Oranges, and Turkcell in the EU and many other geological regions.
The success of these deployment use cases is expected to bring more network operators, new vendors, and stakeholders into the marketplace to invest this new network approach.
In addition, with the expansion of the supplier ecosystem, traditional infrastructure vendors will need to reconsider their RAN development and deployment strategies.
Advanced 5G features, including massive MIMO, dynamic spectrum sharing, and wide-band carrier aggregation, are still single-vendor solutions and will likely remain so for the immediate future. On the other hand, several chipset vendors and new entrants are now creating development and processing platforms that will likely power the next wave of innovation in Open RAN, finds ABI.
ABI also indicates that many unique features of Open RAN can also beneficial for industrial enterprise verticals to build private cellular networks. These features include infrastructure reconfigurability, network sustainability, time to innovations, and deployment cost.