An industry group that aims to bring more open technologies into the radio access network to help reduce costs and spur innovation has added another seven operators to its membership list and now features the world's biggest service providers internationally.
The ORAN Alliance, unveiled at this year's Mobile World Congress in February, will be hard to ignore after it announced last week that Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) (India), China Telecom, KT Corp. (South Korea), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY), SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) (South Korea), Telefónica (Spain) and Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) (Australia) have now joined its ranks. (See Major Telcos Pool Efforts to Slash 5G RAN Costs.)
Co-founded by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) (USA), China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) (Germany), NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) (Japan) and Orange (NYSE: FTE) (France), the association is taking aim at the closed nature of the radio access network (RAN).
Despite former standardization efforts, some of the interfaces that connect different parts of the RAN prevent operators from using multiple vendors. By making these interfaces more open, or developing alternatives, operators believe they can spur RAN competition, lower network costs and make RAN virtualization much easier.
The initiative is not entirely new, bringing together a group known as the xRAN Forum, which featured many of the operators now in the ORAN Alliance, and another called the C-RAN Alliance, led by China Mobile. Besides the ORAN Alliance's founder members, SK Telecom, Telefónica and Telstra were already xRAN Forum members.
The question now is whether its growing momentum persuades some of the biggest RAN vendors to join the ORAN Alliance. While a more open RAN might seem to threaten their business models, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is already a member of the xRAN Forum and others might see an opportunity in participation, and more danger in trying to resist the pressure from service provider customers. (See Nokia Seizes Open RAN Initiative as Ericsson Holds Back.)
— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading
This is an edited version of a story that was originally published on Telco Transformation's sister site, Light Reading. To see the full story, click here.