GSMA and O-RAN Alliance collaborate to ‘rethink the RAN’

The GSMA has joined forces with the O-RAN Alliance to work on open radio access network (RAN) products.

This is the second such collaborative effort for the O-RAN Alliance, which struck a similar deal with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) in February.

RELATED: TIP, O-RAN Alliance reach liaison agreement

The GSMA says its joint work with the O-RAN Alliance is important in the era of 5G and also because an open networking ecosystem is essential to meet enterprise needs. “When 5G reaches its potential, it will become the first generation of mobile networks to have a bigger impact on enterprises than consumers,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of the GSMA, in a statement. “In the enterprise sector alone, we forecast $700 billion worth of economic value to be created by the 5G opportunity.”

Of the new collaboration, Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and CTO of AT&T, said, “As the demand for data and vastly expanded mobile communications grow in the 5G era, a global, cross-border approach is needed to rethink the RAN.” 

RELATED: Open RAN leader Sachin Katti ‘surprised’ by uptake

Sachin Katti, co-chair of the O-RAN Alliance Technical Steering Committee, told FierceWireless recently that he’s pleasantly surprised by the uptake and interest in open RAN technology.

A lot of the interest in open RAN solutions is coming from carriers, which have been trying to escape vendor lock-in for years. But another force driving open RAN is political. With the U.S. government's attacks on Huawei, the traditional telecom vendor ecosystem has been whittled down to basically Ericsson and Nokia. There’s a lot of motivation to introduce more competition and innovation in the telecom vendor landscape.

Related to that, in early May a new group — the Open RAN Policy Coalition — was formed by a who’s who list of tech players: AWS, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Dish, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Rakuten, Samsung, Verizon, VMWare, and World Wide Technology, to name a few. The coalition intends to advocate for government policy that helps drive open RAN adoption.

RELATED: AT&T, Verizon part of new 31-member Open RAN Policy Coalition

Parallel Wireless is one of the upstarts working on open RAN technologies. Parallel’s CEO Steve Papa said today, “The entire telecom industry is going through a dramatic change that can be only compared to the change that data centers went through in the 2000s.”

Papa said the telecom industry is moving from costly, proprietary solutions to open, common-off-the-shelf products that create a broader vendor supply chain.