The introduction of an open ecosystem will provide a broader choice in vendors and best in class RAN solutions for mobile operators
Open RAN (Radio Access Network) has long been touted as a game-changer in the telecom industry – not just for the innovation it can deliver to consumers and enterprises, but also for its ability to disrupt the vendor landscape.
RAN is a domain that demands openness and best-of-breed innovation to ensure the best experience for network operators and their customers. Moreover, in an increasingly competitive landscape, operators can no longer just rely on their relationships with traditional vendors. This includes being at the mercy of a single vendor’s product lifecycle or roadmap. In this era of disruption and expectation, operators need to develop and deliver innovation – fast.
Thus, the introduction of an open architecture with common interfaces between each hardware and software element could spell an end to vendor lock-in and more flexibility for mobile operators.
Why is this important to operators? First, spending on RAN is a sizable chunk of mobile operators’ CAPEX budget, primarily due to limited vendor choice and closed architectures, both of which can stifle competitive pricing. Second, operators are increasingly seeking new ways to accelerate innovation and provide a differentiated experience to their customers – and this can only come by inviting more vendors to the table.
A key benefit of Open RAN (ORAN) is its ability to provide an end to operators’ reliance on individual vendor roadmaps and limited innovation due to occasional product drop-ins. As a result, operators can receive agile solutions tailored to their specific needs to meet their objectives, enabling greater innovation and faster time to market. Again, competition from open ecosystems is an operator’s friend, stimulating a richer, more flexible marketplace.
Put simply, ORAN’s goal is to bring in more vendors to speed up innovation and collaboration to develop differentiated services, delivered quickly to monetize. It has the potential to dramatically change the economics of build-out and mobile operators’ relationships with their supply chains.
However, for ORAN to be truly effective, no single vendor can work in isolation. It calls for an ecosystem that’s agile and dynamic. This ecosystem should be flexible enough to continually expand, eventually forming an overarching ecosystem that will reap the full benefits of ORAN.
In fact, the O-RAN ALLIANCE was established to avoid continued vendor lock-in and re-shape the RAN industry toward more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks.
An Expanding Partner Ecosystem
As a proud, active member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, Juniper Networks is committed to establishing an ecosystem that supports the implementation of ORAN. We’re determined to bring openness and innovation to this traditionally closed-off part of the network and continue to drive initiatives to make this a reality. Juniper understands ORAN is one of the fastest ways for service providers and enterprises to deliver cutting edge technologies to market efficiently, such as 5G, edge computing and AI.
Juniper’s leadership role in ORAN reflects our commitment to bring an experience-first network to customers through automation, intelligent control and granular assurance of experience. Juniper has made significant investments in leading this exciting shift in the industry, beginning with an exclusive IP licensing agreement with Netsia, in addition to significant involvement in the majority of the working groups driving specifications in the O-RAN ALLIANCE.
Recently, an exclusive global licensing agreement saw Netsia transfer its leading-edge RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) technology to Juniper, including related source code and patents, plus exclusive rights to develop and sell products and solutions that integrate with its RIC.
The beauty of the ORAN ecosystem model is that it continues to attract more collaborators as it expands, bringing together various pieces of a full ecosystem. For example, Juniper is actively engaging with key platform providers to expand integrations and is part of Intel’s FlexRAN ecosystem, building joint customer solutions in Intel’s 5G Lab.
In 2021, we expanded our partnerships further to include Rakuten Symphony, bringing to market Symware, a carrier-grade ORAN solution for network operators to modernize radio cell sites by leveraging the latest cloud-native architecture.
We’ve also taken steps to integrate with multiple radio vendors, such as Parallel Wireless and Casa Systems, supported by strong industry testing and validation of our ORAN use cases through partnerships with Keysight Technologies. Further, we‘re engaging with application vendors, such as AirHop Communications, in addition to developing our own xApps and rApps for the RIC. Similarly, with the help of our partners, like Red Hat, we’re working with customers, including Red Hat, to integrate our RIC with Red Hat Openshift.
Simplifying ORAN in Practice
Indeed, the collaboration with ecosystem partners is bearing fruit through early trials with customers. Juniper’s recent announcement outlines our collaboration with Vodafone and Parallel Wireless, highlighting our multivendor RIC trial for tenant-aware admission control use cases. The trial supports ORAN interfaces and addresses key business challenges faced by mobile operators around personalized user experience, viable revenue generation and reduction in CAPEX and OPEX for 4G and 5G services.
A similar trial is also being conducted with Türk Telecom, deploying our near-real-time (near-RT) and non-real-time (non-RT) RIC enabling the onboarding of various xApps/rApps to deliver differentiated customer experiences.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022, we’ll be demonstrating elements of these collaborations and exploring the latest ORAN use cases at Juniper’s booth in Hall 2, 2I15, with more demonstrations at our partner booths.
Openness Leads to Innovation
At Juniper, we know how important it is for operators to pick which vendor is most suitable to their innovation needs, enabling personalized customer experiences. That’s why we’re committed to and ready for Open RAN. The question now for operators is: are you?