5G: What is open RAN?

‘Open RAN’ telecoms trials aim to reshape mobile market | Financial Times

Open RAN allows telecoms groups to separate the hardware and software of a mobile base station, thereby opening the door for a mix of equipment and technologies from different vendors.

Now, telecoms companies are committing even more in R&D spending to developing the open network architecture that they hope will cut costs, and drive better service for their customers.

(emphasis mine)

This is the simplest explanation of a modular system, instead of an all-encompassing monolithic structure bought from specific vendors. 5G can be run from data centres and therefore as a “software solution” – which can be updated/upgraded from data-centre. It offers a tantalising opportunity for new software vendors and cloud service providers to provide customisability for niche healthcare delivery.

Prototype OPEN-RAN device.

Open-RAN is still in the trial stages, and it is this development which is more exciting than 5G itself. Which means theoretically, it should be feasible to update standards through simple swipe and upgrade (like the custom desktops). Of course, it is not as simplified as I have mentioned, but it still remains the cornerstone for mobile networks. Besides innovation (and open standards), it should allow rapid diffusion in underdeveloped economies as the equipment will be commoditised. I am not sure how the patents will come into play- but I’ll be on the lookout for more detailed coverage on this development.

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