Ericsson, one of the world’s largest 5G network providers, claims that open RAN equipment is ultimately more expensive than traditional traditional RAN equipment.
“The reality is that the performance of the open RAN does not compare to that of the integrated RAN,” the company told the FCC. “Even though the cost reduction estimates were true on a unit cost basis, the two devices do not provide the same level of performance. Ericsson’s own estimates have indicated that open RAN is more expensive than embedded RAN given the need for more to accomplish what specially designed solutions can offer and increase systems integration costs. ”
The company’s statement is notable given that players ranging from Japan’s Rakuten to Inland Cellular, a small wireless service provider in eastern Washington and north-central Idaho, generally argue that the RAN equipment open is 40% cheaper than traditional conventional RAN equipment.
“Open RAN will provide savings over proprietary architectures,” said open RAN vendor Mavenir in its own recent meeting with FCC officials. The company said that the open RAN equipment can reduce the operating expenses of network providers by 40% and the total cost of ownership by 36%.
Not opposed to open RAN
More importantly, Ericsson’s North American technical director, Mike Murphy, told the FCC that the vendor is not an opponent of open RAN technology. “Ericsson has dedicated a number of resources to the success of the O-RAN Alliance specifications, providing approximately 1,000 of the 7,000 total specifications,” the company told the FCC, citing Murphy’s presentation. “Indeed, without Ericsson’s contributions to the O-RAN Alliance, the timeline for more fully developed standards would likely be even further in the future.”
Ericsson argued that the open RAN is just not yet ready for large and cutting edge network deployments. “The lack of completed standards does not mean that O-RAN technologies cannot be deployed today,” said Ericsson. “But does that mean that such deployments require individual vendors to come to mutual agreements?”
Ericsson isn’t the only company to warn the FCC about open RAN. Nokia ?? another big supplier of 5G equipment ?? made similar arguments in a recent presentation to the FCC. “Although some vendors only offer open RAN architecture and / or limited RAN products, Nokia is able to offer a choice of classic or open RAN depending on the wishes of our customers,” Nokia explained. “To date, the vast majority of service providers have chosen traditional RAN solutions, delaying investment in open RAN until greater business maturity has been demonstrated. ”
The company also took issue with the idea that open RAN equipment is considerably less expensive than traditional conventional RAN equipment. But he did not provide any definitive statement on the matter.
Beware of money orders
Generally speaking, Ericsson, Nokia and others have warned the FCC against sweeping warrants that would force network operators to use open RAN equipment. This topic surfaced during the development of the FCC’s “rip and replace” program, designed to fund the removal of Huawei and ZTE equipment from US networks for security reasons. But such mandates could also be applied to other FCC efforts, including distributing billions of dollars in grants to fund the construction of networks in rural and underserved areas in the United States.
At a high level, Western diplomats have embraced open RAN as a way to counter low-cost equipment from Chinese suppliers. After all, open RAN technology promises to allow network operators to mix and match equipment from a variety of vendors, through standardized interfaces ?? thus paving the way for the integration of equipment from trusted Western suppliers.
However, many industry players argue that open RAN is not yet mature. They argue that government mandates that would require the use of technology ?? in pursuit of geopolitical objectives ?? would be misguided.
“The United States has clearly demonstrated that open and intense competition, not government mandates, is the most effective way to mobilize the telecommunications industry to enable unprecedented innovation and value creation,” said Ericsson at the FCC. “The United States has dominated the world in 4G and the ‘app economy’ not by insisting on a particular network standard, but by creating an investment climate that is open, predictable and attractive to all parties. industry stakeholders and allowing operators to select the best technology according to their needs. . ”
However, such arguments do not extend to the prospect of government funding for the development of an open RAN. Equipment vendors and network operators of all shapes and sizes in the United States and Europe continue to urge policymakers to allocate funds for open RAN research and testing.
?? Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G and Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano