While O-RAN / vRAN approaches make sense in principle, the complete conversion for nationwide networks is not yet worthwhile. Michael Lemke, Senior Technology Principal at Huawei Technologies Germany, explained this in a post that is available at Golem.de. "In practice, there are increasing challenges in energy efficiency: Beam-shaping antennas that enable the most powerful 5G implementation require the highest computing power in the RAN for real-time signal processing, which IT standard products cannot provide efficiently."said Lemke. The Huawei chips for this are not available on the free market, but only as part of their mobile radio products for the Radio Access Network (RAN).
The integration of the various components from many providers is also very complex, which requires high costs, explained Lemke. The new approach also required high-performance transport networks, including a comprehensive fiber optic supply for everyone, including the new antenna locations. "This is not yet the case in Germany"Lemke emphasized. For example, the new approaches are useful for RAN resource management functions.
In order to produce network services more flexibly and to reduce the purchasing costs for the individual components, network operators are increasingly relying on standard components for hardware and software in order to decouple network control and data forwarding functions, explained Lemke.
5G slicing, which provides multiple subnets on a hardware and software platform, is based on the principles of virtualization. Against this background, approaches such as Open-RAN (ORAN) and virtualized RAN (vRAN) are increasingly being discussed in connection with 5G. "ORAN, which would like to open further RAN sub-interfaces, and vRAN approaches pursue the goal of transferring the described trend of virtualization from the core to the RAN"said Lemke.
Open RAN means virtualized network elements, white box hardware, open source software and standardized interfaces. Proprietary chips are to be largely avoided. While Ericsson and Nokia at least officially support ORAN, all major ORAN providers come from the United States, the government also wants to position the technology against Huawei. In fact, for Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson and everyone else, it would be the end of their previous business model if ORAN really prevailed in network equipment.