At the most recent FierceWireless 5G Blitz Week, some of the world’s leading 5G innovators met via webinar to discuss the potential of O-RAN and challenges of the ongoing 5G rollout. In a keynote, EVP and General Manager of Marvell’s Processors Business Group Raj Singh explored the accelerating shift to O-RAN, which is an emerging open-source architecture for Radio Access Networks that enables customers to create better 5G applications by mixing and matching RAN technology from different vendors.
O-RAN architectures are compelling because they increase competition among vendors, reduce costs, and offer customers greater flexibility to combine RAN elements according to their application’s specific use cases. However, in addition to their obvious benefits, O-RAN solutions also raise operator concerns including potential challenges with integration, legacy support, interoperability and security – issues that Marvell and other companies in the Open RAN Policy Coalition are addressing through shared standards, proven solutions and innovative approaches.
As Raj noted, open RAN doesn’t change what is being processed, but where. Marvell’s O-RAN solutions address Radio Units, Distributed Units and Centralized Units. We provide reference hardware designs and protocol stack software implementations. He added that while the transition from RAN to O-RAN may take years, the market need is urgent, because general-purpose processors are sub-optimal for L1 functions.
In a separate roundtable discussion on O-RAN, Raj joined panelists from Rethink Technology Research, Vodafone, Facebook Connectivity, and Analog Devices to explore ways in which network operators, technology influencers and system integrators are working to expedite the availability of O-RAN in the 5G marketplace.
Panelists noted that once the O-RAN transition is complete, it will offer customers greater supply chain flexibility and diversity, better performance, more collaboration, bigger economies of scale, lower capital expenditures, and also drive further innovation.
That said, work remains in translating this vision into reality, because customers are unwilling to sacrifice familiar features, standards and security during the transition. “You can’t just say ‘oh, it’s Open-RAN, and it doesn’t have to do this, or doesn’t have to do that,” Raj said. “You have to have the same capacity, reliability, and feature parity that exists in networks today.”
These discussions with industry leaders demonstrate the significant inroads being made in advancing the ORAN architecture.
Fierce Wireless 5G Spring Blitz replay available here
ORAN Round Table Replay available here