Open RAN transforms Radio Access Network (RAN) technology from design to operation of the network. Open RAN creates the possibility of an open RAN environment, with interoperability between different vendors over defined interfaces. In a legacy mobile network ecosystem, RAN is proprietary where a single vendor provides proprietary radio hardware, software, and interface to enable the mobile network to function. RAN ecosystem is evolving towards proving competitive landscape of RAN supplier ecosystem and network operators embracing the transformation. Opening up RAN horizontally brings in a new range of low-cost radio players, and it gives mobile operators a choice to optimize deployment options for specific performance requirements at much better cost.
In December 2021, UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that it has agreed with the four domestic operators to fulfill a goal to boost deployments setting a target of 35% of the nation’s mobile network traffic is carried over open RAN by 2030. The department also increased funding of £30 million to a total of up to £51 million to back projects for trials of open RAN and next-generation technology. As per this latest market research, OPEN RAN Market is expected to cross $32 Billion by 2030 with a growth rate of 42% for a forecast period between 2022 and 2030. Services are going to be the key contributor for this market with 40% share in 2030.
While 5G offers superior performance over 4G, both will coexist comfortably into the 2030s as the bedrock of next generation mobile networks. There are three perspectives that help to underline this point. Firstly, unlike voice-oriented 2G and 3G (which were primarily circuit-switched networks with varying attempts to accommodate packet-switching principles), 4G is a fully packet-switched network optimized for data services. 5G builds on this packet switching capability. Therefore, 4G and 5G networks can coexist for a long while because the transition from 4G to 5G does not imply or require a paradigm shift in the philosophy of the underlying technology. 5G is expected to dominate the OPEN RAN market with $22B TAM in 2030 with a growth rate of 52% as compared to 4G growth rate of 31?tween 2022 and 2030.
RAN accounts for approx. 60% of total network cost and Open RAN presents an opportunity to reduce CAPEX. RU, CU, and DU built on open architecture will lead to reduction in deployment and operational cost as compared to traditional proprietary base stations in mobile network. Open RAN will result in more competition, vendor security, faster update cycle, and user benefits as new features can be added more quickly for end users, operators can provide enterprise level services to support industry 4.0.