Jun 11, 2021 Telecom

5G RAN Evolution: Partnerships Matter

By Jeff Gowan

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In this three-part series, we’ve been exploring the intersection of 5G and RAN. The first two parts examined how RAN is evolving into ORAN and looked at the benefits and challenges of open RAN. In this final post of the series, we discuss how partnerships and collaboration lead to successful open RAN deployments.

Open RAN is the evolution of radio access technologies from single-vendor proprietary systems to best-vendor open standards hardware and software. This change brings innovation and flexibility to networks, along with faster rollouts and easier upgrades and maintenance. But, open RAN is not an easy path to follow at this point in time, simply because it is so new.

The road to success

Many operators are anxious to start using open RAN, pushing the market forward. While they face the technical and engineering challenges we discussed in part 2 of this series, many in the telco industry are confident that we will eventually figure out the logistics and details of a truly scalable commercial-grade open RAN solution.

The telco industry works with multiyear planning cycles that can span decades. To get open RAN into those cycles, operators need to start taking action now, rather than waiting for all the answers before they commit to open RAN. Between the two open RAN alliances, there is enough technical information to get started on evaluating how to use open RAN in specific network infrastructure projects.

How each telco operator participates in open RAN is up to them. It might be engaging with partners and joining alliances to develop and extend standards; supporting open or shared lab investigations; defining and testing deployment scenarios; or working to build out the open RAN ecosystem of operators, vendors, cloud suppliers, and hardware and software suppliers. In addition to working with external partners, operators need to build an internal organization that supports innovation and improvements so that they can leverage the new business and operational models enabled by open RAN and, in a larger context, 5G.

As each operator becomes more deeply involved in open RAN, whether through alliances and partnerships or in-house investigation and testing, the challenges will be met and the problems solved. The success of early open RAN deployments in specific industry use cases will encourage more operators, suppliers, and stakeholders to invest in open RAN and strengthen the movement towards this better-path infrastructure.

At Wind River, we believe all industry stakeholders can - and must - work together to make open RAN not only a reality but a true success story about open standards and innovation lowering TCO and time to market.

Collaboration is key

Operators need to work with an ecosystem of providers and partners in order to be successful with open RAN. Wind River recognize this, which is why we are investing in open-source projects and consortia and forming partnership engagements to further advance 5G and open RAN efforts. At Wind River, we have been involved in over 40 different consortia memberships including open source and standards across all of the markets we serve. We believe involvement in these activities ensures that the product direction and the open source contributions that we make are aligned to the customer and market needs.

Wind River is a founding Platinum member of the Open Infrastructure Foundation (formerly OpenStack Foundation) and StarlingX is one of the key infrastructure projects within that foundation. Wind River designed and built the distributed control plane in StarlingX for distributed networks, with high availability and the ability to self-heal should the node be severed from control links. It was also designed to be extremely efficient, requiring 70% less compute power than a cloud infrastructure originally designed for a data center environment. Starling-X, due to Wind River’s commitment to open RAN, has become the reference O-Cloud infrastructure for all of open RAN.

The Wind River advantage

Wind River Studio’s operator technology, based on the StarlingX project, provides a production-grade, distributed Kubernetes platform for managing edge-cloud infrastructure. Wind River has solved the operational problem of deploying and managing distributed edge networks at scale, making large 5G networks possible.

As one example, Wind River is working with Verizon to accelerate their 5G deployment. Wind River Studio delivers the ultra-low latency and high availability required for Verizon’s national deployment and management of virtualized 5G RAN. Wind River’s solution is also integrated with best-in-class vRAN applications, providing single-pane-of-glass and zero-touch automated management and network analytics.

Come partner with us

Our work with Verizon is just one example of our deep understanding of the telco market and how to execute on high-stakes/can’t fail solutions. We deliver distributed computing solutions that meet the key 5G requirements of high availability, ultra-low latency, scalability, and security.

Whether or not you are familiar with Wind River, we are probably already in your network. Wind River is deployed in over two billion devices and in carrier networks worldwide. Our software has been trusted for decades by all leading telecom equipment manufacturers and Wind River solutions power the majority of 4G and 5G RAN deployments.

Wind River Studio is the first and only integrated solution that delivers a single environment for mission-critical intelligent systems across the full product lifecycle. The Wind River Studio platform offers dramatic improvements in productivity, agility, and time-to-market, with seamless technology integration that includes far edge cloud compute, data analytics, system level security, 5G, and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

If you’re ready to explore open RAN or you just want to have a first-look discussion about this emerging technology, talk to us. We can partner with you to explore and build the solutions your business needs, whether you’re a global telecom or a local provider.

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