One of the biggest trends in the networking industry has been towards disaggregation and, for mobile networks, there is a similar opportunity to disaggregate the Radio Access Network (RAN), via Open RAN.
To this end, Cisco spearheaded the launch of its Open vRAN initiative at the 2018 Mobile World Congress event.
“Conversations with key network operator customers, as well as our partners, made it apparent that something needed to change and they thought we could help,” explained Bob Everson, Senior Director of 5G Architecture for Cisco Systems. “Since then, it’s been a whirlwind ride – working with customers to better define this future and the key elements, building solutions with our partners, innovating in the market to explore new service designs, and contributing to the process of defining industry specifications.”
The Open vRAN blueprint
And today, Cisco, World Wide Technology (WWT), and Altiostar (an innovator in open vRAN technology) have announced that they will be working together on an Open vRAN blueprint that will accelerate the deployment of 4G/5G OpenRAN solutions in service provider networks.
The combined solution will help service providers deploy fully integrated open, cloud-based virtualized RAN solutions based on technologies, created by Cisco and Altiostar, that will be brought to market using the sales, integration and deployment capabilities of WWT.
Given the acronym soup that makes up the majority of industry jargon in the telecoms sector, it’s easy to get confused by the different terms, and sometimes there is a little confusion between Open vRAN and O-RAN, due to the similar names and principles.
“The naming similarity was coincidental, but not surprising, given both are fairly descriptive of the opportunity,” Bob Everson explains in a blog post on the Cisco site. “O-RAN describes themselves well on their website, ‘The O-RAN Alliance was founded by operators to clearly define requirements and help build a supply chain ecosystem to realize its objectives’.”
Many of the same companies, including major network operators, have been involved in discussions around both O-RAN and the Open vRAN ecosystem .
“So, what’s the difference?,” Everson asks. “In a nutshell, O-RAN, in their words, is focused on defining requirements to help build a supply chain ecosystem, while Open vRAN has built a vendor-led (supply chain) ecosystem to accelerate and deliver the solutions that O-RAN and others are asking for. Our ecosystem partners work together – participating in the process of opening up the RAN and accelerating its transition to a more flexible architecture, while building solutions to help customers realize new opportunities.”
Accelerating the deployment of 5G
An Open vRAN blueprint will help to accelerate the deployment of 4G/5G OpenRAN solutions in service provider networks. And the combined solution will help service providers deploy fully integrated open, cloud-based virtualized RAN solutions based on technologies created by Cisco and Altiostar and that will be brought to market using the sales, integration and deployment capabilities of WWT.
"Service Providers are looking to disaggregate and virtualize their infrastructure to enable them to become more agile in delivering new services to their enterprise and consumer customers," said Joe Wojtal, CTO for WWT’s Global Service Provider business. "In this environment, WWT’s facilities, the ATC and global integration centers, are becoming the service provider industry’s Next Generation Factory, which enables the consumption of multi-vendor solutions at speed and with scale."
The Open vRAN blueprint will be validated in WWT’s state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center (ATC), a one-of-a-kind testing and validation facility equipped with roughly $1bn of hardware and software. WWT will then take the Open vRAN blueprint to market as a fully integrated solution that will be available for customers to test and deploy in their networks with the support of services from WWT and Cisco.
"This blueprint brings together leaders in all the areas needed to roll out a complete and open vRAN solution to both rural and urban networks. It is driven by the growing interest in adopting open virtualized RAN amongst the services provider community because of the significant cost and flexibility benefits it brings to their networks," said Thierry Maupile, Executive VP of Strategy and Product Management of Altiostar, "We are happy to partner with Cisco and WWT to create a portfolio consisting of a RAN solution and services that will accelerate the time to adopt for open virtualized RAN for both Tier-1 and Tier-2 operators."
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