Matt Melester, a senior vice president at CommScope, recently took part in an FCC Open RAN Showcase (opens in new tab), where he explained how the public-traded Fortune 500 company was developing products in the Open RAN space.
“Not including Huawei, CommScope is the largest supplier of base station antennas with sales of $1.2 billion for key 4G and 5G equipment, Melester explained. “The motivations behind Open RAN are clear: protecting national security; driving supply-chain diversity; lowering operation costs; and spurring innovation through competition.”
With revenues in excess of $8 billion, CommScope is devoted to the telecommunication industry, and is amongst the largest US-based suppliers for telecommunication infrastructure equipment. And as a company set to benefit from Huawei’s removal from the networking infrastructure of a number of western countries - including the US and UK - CommScope explained how it was vital that work being completed under the banners of different working groups remained open technology.
“Efforts are being made not to repeat past failed attempts,” Melester said. “For example, in the past there have been open interfaces that ultimately became proprietary technology.”
Catching up with China
The US government has been a driving force in supporting Open RAN development as a means to compete with the increasing 5G availability in countries such as China, where there are now 365 million people connected to 5G networks.
“The government is interested in protecting network security and ensuring 5G leadership,” Melester explained. “Most companies we talk to are looking to ORAN to drive down costs and introduce new features to the market, which will help them monetize 5G faster.”
Speed is a key element in Open RAN’s development, with the hope that a virtualized RAN, with more competition, can start to eat into China’s dominance in this area; not just in the US, but in every other country that’s playing catch-up.
“Driving virtualization and standard interfaces will drive innovation, lower costs, and enable new domestic suppliers to enter into the space,” Melester said. “Necessity is the mother of invention, and competition is the mother of innovation. And CommScope recognizes that for an ecosystem to dramatically change, there must be great effort, long-term vision, and significant collaboration.”