The Open vRAN movement started with some smaller waves and the anticipation of a larger wave to form. It was driven by a belief that the fundamental way that mobile networks have been built for decades needed to evolve and improve. Legacy architectures, that were useful in the past, have outlived their utility and are holding operators back. Changes are required to enable new services, new operational models, and fundamentally better economics. Operators started asking about it, organizations were formed to investigate it, and key innovators are now executing on it.
We formed and announced Open vRAN at Mobile World Congress 2018. Conversations with key network operator customers, as well as our partners, made it apparent that something needed to change and they thought we could help. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind ride – working with customers to better define this future and the key elements, building solutions with our partners, innovating in the market to explore new service designs, and contributing to the process of defining industry specifications.
On that last topic, sometimes there is a little confusion between Open vRAN and O-RAN due to the similar names and similar principles. The naming similarity was coincidental, but not surprising, given both are fairly descriptive of the opportunity. O-RAN describes themselves well on their website, “The O-RAN Alliance was founded by operators to clearly define requirements and help build a supply chain eco-system to realize its objectives.” They have extensive details available on their website and in their whitepaper, so I won’t speak for them here.
Much of this was defined over the past year and we’re very pleased that our own Open vRAN ecosystem is very well aligned with their key principles and objectives. That should be expected since we were listening to many of the very same operators that formed O-RAN when we designed the Open vRAN Ecosystem, and many of our members are also active members of O-RAN. In fact, Cisco and other key partners contributed heavily to specifications in xRAN, which has since merged into O-RAN.
So, what’s the difference? In a nutshell, O-RAN, in their words, is focused on defining requirements to help build a supply chain eco-system, while Open vRAN has built a vendor-led (supply chain) ecosystem to accelerate and deliver the solutions that O-RAN and others are asking for. Our ecosystem partners work together – participating in the process of opening up the RAN and accelerating its transition to a more flexible architecture, while building solutions to help customers realize new opportunities.
BIG things are happening in Open vRAN and we can’t wait to tell you more about them. We’ll publish a more thorough update in a few days as we kickoff Mobile World Congress – Barcelona. Make sure you plan to come visit us in our booth in Hall 3, 3E30 – you won’t be disappointed.
The Open vRAN wave is building – winds are blowing in the right direction, and friction is reducing as the industry moves forward. Come along – the water is nice, and we would love to have you join us – there’s a beautiful wave on the horizon.