5G is coming – and it’s important to be prepared to adopt the technology once it is available.
However, the process of 5G adoption is set to be a long one, and networks and businesses cannot ignore the fact that it will be crucial to continue supporting the other Gs – such as 2G, 3G, and 4G.
This can make network investment a potentially pricy and tricky proposition, as many networks may feel the need to choose between continuing to support their older network technologies, or aggressively taking on 5G.
This is due to the fact that RAN hardware and software has historically been locked into specific network technologies, meaning that this equipment and software has needed to be torn down and replaced when new technologies become available.
Since RAN hardware technology tends to comprise around 60% of CAPEX and OPEX, it has become critical that networks find a solution that does not require this continued replacement of RAN hardware and software.
The solution, Open RAN, is now here and available for networks to use – saving them massive amounts of time and money.
How Open RAN works
Before Open RAN was available as a complete solution, vRAN (virtual Radio Access Network) was the next best thing. It was a form of RAN that virtualised the hardware-based base station – turning this system into one driven by software.
However, one of the biggest issues with vRAN was that it still required proprietary hardware and interfaces to be used in the network process – making it difficult to adapt to new technologies and to scale the network.
Open RAN solves this problem by completely disaggregating the hardware and the software of the RAN, ensuring that any vendor software can work with the RAN’s hardware. It is critically important that networks aren’t locked into relationships with specific vendors, as better technologies and deals may become available in the future – further lowering network costs while increasing performance.
Open RAN achieves this functional diversity by using a general purpose processor (GPP) rather than a single purpose processor (SPP). A single purpose processor is designed specifically for a certain, limited number of functions. In contrast, a GPP can perform a much wider range of functions – enabling it to use a wide variety of different RAN software solutions.
Key to the value of Open RAN and the implementation of a GPP is how this reduces costs significantly. This is because R&D does not need to hyper-focus on tailored architectures, which cost significantly more to develop, and need to be consistently improved upon as software capabilities increase.
Instead, Open RAN’s use of a GPP means that one set of hardware can support a wide variety of functions and software types – making it the future of RAN.
Open RAN for 5G
5G is expected to be used to handle large amounts of data from tasks such as IoT communications, HD video content, AR, and VR.
Open RAN is very well-suited to dealing with this new technology, as well any future innovations, due to its ability to run the appropriate RAN software on a single, comprehensive hardware solution.
This also ensures that the cost of launching 5G is reduced substantially for networks – which is of high value when trying to launch such cutting-edge network technology.
Networks that use an Open RAN solution also have the ability to balance their 5G networks with their legacy technologies just by modernising these systems with simple software upgrades.
Parallel Wireless’ Open RAN solution
Parallel Wireless’ Open RAN solution is a market-leading, highly flexible system.
There is a tremendous need for software-enabled telecom architecture that supports all of the different “G’s”– particularly in developing nations, where 2G and 3G are still prevalent.
Parallel Wireless’ solution achieves this – offering telecoms a software-defined Open RAN solution that can support anything from 2G all the way through to the modern 5G offering.
This is due to the ability that Open RAN provides for telecoms to upgrade their networks to 5G once they gain the ability to launch this ground-breaking technology, and then to scale their network in accordance with uptake – all without having to replace hardware.
“We do this by disaggregating the software from the hardware to enable a less monolithic architecture that’s easier to scale and manage,” said Director of Sales in South Africa, Lux Maharaj.
Another great feature of Open RAN from Parallel Wireless is that you can run multiple Gs through one architecture at the same time. This means that telecoms can simultaneously use Open RAN to provide 4G and 5G to urban customers, and 2G or 3G to those in rural areas.
Some of the biggest mobile networks in the world, including MTN, Vodafone, and Telefonica, deploy Parallel Wireless’ Open RAN solution – which is ample proof that they are a leading provider of scalable and powerful Open RAN solutions.
To learn more about how Open RAN can enable your 5G uptake, contact Parallel Wireless today.
This article was published in partnership with Parallel Wireless.