Free Up Innovation with Multi-Vendor Open RAN Framework

WWT, Mavenir, VMware and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) partner to propose an Open RAN Framework to drive the industry forward.

Communications service providers (CSPs) / Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) face several daunting challenges, from managing multiple networks to meeting sky-high customer expectations. They also face undeniable pressure to lower TCO and increase ROI, even as data continues to explode and mobile usage skyrockets. In addition, the convergence of 5G and Cloud is creating the perfect context for extreme market disruption, and CSPs/MNOs who don't quickly figure out how to take advantage of this convergence could find themselves left in the dust by current or brand-new competitors offering game-changing services.

Surmounting these challenges requires a whole new kind of network, one that is: 

  • Free of limitations from proprietary hardware
  • Software-based
  • Automated
  • Able to support cloud-native architectures
  • Capable of running multiple apps on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware

Ideally, this network would run closer to the edge and leverage AI/ML to gain insights from data where it lives and run on any cloud.

In other words, it requires an open radio access network (Open RAN) — a disaggregated RAN with open interfaces between the various components, which can come from numerous suppliers, instead of just one that could lock you in and slow your ability to innovate your services. 

Why open RAN?

Today, many RAN systems are based on proprietary hardware and software from a single supplier. RAN is one of the last technologies that continues this proprietary, non-standard, closed delivery system. Other technologies — such as voice, video, and transport systems — have been opened and standardized, resulting in innovation, market growth, and cost optimizations — examples being Voice over IP, Video over IP, and IP networks, in general. Open RAN strives to "open" the industry, allowing for similar innovations and cost optimizations with RAN systems. 

Challenges of implementing a disaggregated RAN

Clearly, the deployment of multi-vendor, disaggregated RAN solutions represents a significant change in the way MNOs traditionally — and currently, in most cases — perform network planning, procurement, deployment, and operation. 

Few MNOs are set up to take on that single integrator responsibility. 

In fact, an Analysys Mason report shows that while 82% of survey respondents plan to support open interfaces and multi-vendor RAN for 5G macro networks, only 22% intend to use more than two suppliers per geographical area in the first years of rollout. 

Respondents gave a multitude of reasons for this, which fell into two categories: 

  • Cost and complexity, which included in rank order:
    • Integration cost and complexity
    • Risk of increased OpEx
    • Lack of single accountable supplier
    • Uncoordinated update processes
  • Performance integration, including in order:
    • Immature technologies and supply chain
    • Performance trade-offs over integrated RAN
    • Risk of lowest common denominator
    • Limited data on real-time resilience
    • Security issues

Regardless of the reason, the fact remains: supporting open interfaces and using components from two vendors is a step in the right direction and – to some MNOs – can feel like a big leap and huge success. While this may be true and should be applauded, the potential impact and benefits from implementing a virtual or Open RAN should only increase when more suppliers and innovations are integrated into the system.

So the million (or billion) dollar question is: How can you overcome the friction and complexity of integrating and testing a stack of discrete systems to implement a disaggregated, multi-vendor radio access network?

A single hand to shake

You can manage/implement an open RAN architecture with a clearly defined model leveraging a single integrator — a single hand to shake. This single integrator can expertly connect the proven systems of multiple vendors in a way that will:

  • Maximize the impact and benefits
  • Minimize complexity and risk
  • Remove integration friction
  • Ensure a successful rollout, on time and on budget.

Ultimately, this "single hand to shake" model is critical in helping you drive the business outcomes you need from an Open RAN — from energy efficiency, optimizing TCO and increasing ROI (and getting to it faster) to driving innovation and developing the type of 5G services your customers will demand (and probably are demanding already).

Figure 1 – Legacy RAN model vs. Multi-Vendor Open RAN
Figure 1 – Legacy RAN model vs. Multi-Vendor Open RAN

Of course, it begs the question: how do you find the best "single integrator" for the job?

WWT joined with three leading industry partners — MavenirVMware and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) — to create a clear path forward for MNOs like you to build successful disaggregated (virtual and/or open) RAN solutions and support it throughout its lifecycle. 

We developed a partnership and took a two-pronged approach.

First, the partners published a validated framework for disaggregated RAN that's ready for MNOs to deploy. 

And, secondly, we developed and now offer a disaggregated RAN model based on our aligned technology partnership, with a single hand to shake, that will help you develop your entire RAN solution throughout its lifecycle. 

Our model addresses key challenges by providing:

  • Clear responsibility for supporting an Open RAN. A single hand-to-shake approach, clearly defines a single point of contact, clear roles & responsibilities for operational support, centralized training and documentation, and a single-pane-of-glass for system management.
  • Clear responsibility for lifecycle management. The partners' continuous validation work ensures alignment of major and minor software releases and updates to ensure interoperability and continued operation of the Open RAN.
  • Results throughout the lifecycle of the solution that meet or exceed the industry standard.

Each of the members in the partnership plays a crucial part, as shown below.

Figure 2 – Multi-Vendor Open RAN Framework
Figure 2 – Multi-Vendor Open RAN Framework

WWT and its partners deliver a minimal risk design, build, and support of an open, disaggregated solution, with WWT as the system integrator, leveraging its large scale delivery capability; Mavenir, the virtualized RAN (vRAN) software and radio units provider; VMware, the telco cloud platform provider; and HPE, the compute and networking stack provider. 

Together, the established framework will not only help you overcome legacy adoption challenges but also help you accelerate innovation and drive the adoption of disaggregated RAN technologies around the globe. You can expect:

  • Greater roadmap control for releasing new features/services
  • Reduced implementation time utilizing automated on-site provisioning and centralized pre-integration
  • Accelerated RAN innovation through programmability
  • Vendor diversification
    • Increase ARPU by innovating quicker to deliver new services and revenue opportunities
    • Minimize risk of vendor lock-in

The framework follows a unique, actionable step-by-step process to get an Open RAN solution stood up and delivering results for your organization as quickly as possible.

Learn more about how we can help you harness the power of Open RAN or contact us today.