Ultra Oxymoron: GSMA teams up with O-RAN Alliance without liaison with 3GPP or ITU

The GSMA and O-RAN Alliance are cooperating to accelerate the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions that take advantage of new open virtualized architectures, software and hardware. The organizations will work together to harmonize the open networking ecosystem and agree on an industry roadmap for network solutions, thereby making access networks as open and flexible as possible for new market entrants.

GSMA. made up with established wireless telcos and incumbent network equipment vendors,  says that “5G will facilitate the opportunity to create even more agile, purpose-built networks tailored to the different needs of citizens, enterprises and society. For example, 5G is an essential ingredient of the European Commission’s recently launched Industrial Strategy and will help shape its future.”

O-RAN Alliance is a world-wide community of more than 170 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. It’s  mission is to re-shape the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN standards will enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN-compliant mobile networks will at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by the mobile operators.

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Author’s Opinion:

So here we have an upstart consortium (O-RAN Alliance), cooperating with an established mobile ecosystem marketing machine (GSMA) to promote “open and interoperable mobile networks.”  Yet the only way for that to be realized is through adherence to “open” standards and cooperating closely with recognized standards bodies.  That is the way interoperability is obtained- by defining open interfaces, layers and protocols!

Instead, O-RAN is making their own specifications (e.g. virtual RAN)  that are not part of any 5G standard or 3GPP spec!  In particular, the O-RAN Alliance has no liaisons with either 3GPP or ITU-R or ITU-T.   How is then possible to specify open hardware and software without any inter-change of documents with those standards organizations?  One would think that liaisons, spec iterations, close cooperation with feedback would be essential for success, e.g. a closed loop ecosystem between standards bodies and open source consortiums is urgently needed!

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In its latest Mobile Economy Report, the GSMA predicts that operators will invest more than a trillion dollars over the next five years globally to serve both consumer and enterprise customers, 80 per cent of which will be on 5G networks.

“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, GSMA. “In the enterprise sector alone, we forecast $700 billion worth of economic value to be created by the 5G opportunity. The growth of the open networking ecosystem will be essential to meeting enterprise coverage and services needs in the 5G era.”

“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,” said Andre Fuetsch, Chairman of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T. “The GSMA collaboration with the O-RAN ALLIANCE is exactly the sort of global effort that’s needed for everyone, operators and vendors alike, to succeed in this new generation.”

Mobile operators are re-evaluating the way that their networks are deployed. New virtualised architectures with open interfaces can drive cost efficiencies and allow operators to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. Also, open interfaces can help diversify and reinvigorate the supply chain promoting competition and innovation – for example, by building and operating a RAN based on mix-and-match components from different vendors.

The GSMA and O-RAN ALLIANCE collaboration complements the recently announced inter-working between the GSMA and Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and the O-RAN Alliance and TIP. The goal for these collaborations is to help avoid fragmentation and accelerate the successful evolution of the industry towards a more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable RAN (see Author’s Opinion above) why this is highly unlikely to happen).

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Image Credit: O-RAN Alliance

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June 12, 2020 Update: Press Release from Mavenir and Aliostar:

“Very few companies are participating in the current (OpenRAN) supply chain and mostly offering proprietary radio solutions lacking open interfaces that are not interoperable with other network elements. In addition, the requirement to procure products from trusted vendors in the US market is also causing operators to reconsider supplier options. OpenRAN radios provide new possibilities for operators to implement a secure, cost effective and best of breed solution as networks move to 5G and beyond.”

Mavenir and Altiostar Collaborate to Deliver OpenRAN Radios for US Market

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 750 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

About O-RAN ALLIANCE
O-RAN ALLIANCE is a world-wide community of more than 170 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. As the RAN is an essential part of any mobile network, O-RAN ALLIANCE’s mission is to re-shape the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN standards will enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN-compliant mobile networks will at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by the mobile operators. To achieve this, O-RAN ALLIANCE publishes new RAN specifications, releases open software for the RAN, and supports its members in integration and testing of their implementations.

For a short video describing O-RAN’s progress, see www.o-ran.org/videos

For more information please visit www.o-ran.org

Media Contacts: 
For the GSMA
Alia Ilyas
+44 (0) 7970 637622
ailyas@gsma.com

GSMA Press Office
pressoffice@gsma.com

O-RAN ALLIANCE:
Zbynek Dalecky
pr@o-ran.org
O-RAN Alliance e.V.
Buschkauler Weg 27
53347 Alfter/Germany

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References:

GSMA and O-RAN Alliance Collaborate on Opening up 5G Networks

 

5G breaks from proprietary systems, embraces open source RANs

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