TIP launched the OpenRAN Project Group at the TIP Summit 2017 to bring a more flexible approach to Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment design and deployment. Building RAN equipment with open architectures can unlock innovative technologies and new network efficiencies, making it possible to further extend network coverage and to upgrade existing networks.
The growth of global mobile broadband services requires that networks become more efficient and more flexible. The new technologies and approaches developed inside and outside of the Telecom Infra Project can enable operators to deploy voice and data services to more people.
The TIP OpenRAN project group has been pursuing the development of fully programmable RAN solutions based on General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software. In parallel, we have been working to define GPPP-based RAN specifications and test new network tools to ensure potential OpenRAN solutions meet our own internal key performance indicators.
Announcing the OpenRAN RFIs
Now, Vodafone and Telefónica are each issuing a Request For Information (RFI) to better understand and explore the existing market opportunities for technologies based on OpenRAN principles. They plan to make the technical specifications from the RFI process available to the OpenRAN project group in the coming days. In addition, the companies will be announcing the results of the RFI process and a shortlist of potential vendors at TIP Summit on October 16-17 in London.
These RFIs are an important step towards building and utilizing a RAN based on open architectures, as well as understanding which vendors are driving innovation in the RAN market. The initial focus of the RFIs is on understanding which OpenRAN technologies could gain traction. As a result, the scope of the RFIs is focused on 4G solutions, although 2G and 3G technologies will also be considered.
The vendor technologies presented in response to these RFIs will be evaluated using clear benchmarks that will help guide operators towards the selection of a shortlist of vendors. Respondents are invited to submit comprehensive information describing the current state of their products and development plans for the next year. Only RAN nodes which demonstrate open interoperability from the perspective of the baseband processing platform, radio hardware, software and business model will be evaluated within this process.
Although the objective of these RFIs is to help extend network connectivity, the ambition of the project is accelerating the future RAN solutions that will potentially be deployed in all market segments. Vodafone and Telefónica will work closely with the OpenRAN project group and are exploring additional ways to collaborate across the industry – including working with other industry groups interested in similar OpenRAN concepts.