The OpenRAN (radio access network) specification by the Telecom Infrastructure project defines different interfaces in the telecom system, allowing equipment from different radio and network equipment developers to work effectively together.
This is particularly interesting for private 5G cellular networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can combine technologies from various suppliers along with edge AI processing for lower latency and power consumption. It also avoids issues with equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE that are subject to bans by Western governments.
The top vendor identified by Appledore is Parallel Wireless, based in New Hampshire, with software-defined unified cloud-native OpenRAN network software. It is working with Vodafone Ireland to roll out OpenRAN systems and was part of the 5GRural project in the UK led by Cisco.
Altiostar at #2 is based in Massachusetts and provides cloud-native radio network software to Telefonica and O2 in the UK, working with NEC.
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Intel comes in at number 3, combining its CPU and FPGA technologies. NEC is a significant supplier of OpenRAN hardware systems, and is setting up its global R&D for this in the UK. Qualcomm and Xilinx are two other key chip designers in the list.
US equipment developers are currently dominating the list to challenge European developers Nokia and Ericsson as the incumbent suppliers. However the US government is now looking to evaluate the cost and performance of the equipment through its NTIA labs.
“Despite the clear impact that challenger vendors are making, the evidence bodes well for telecom Communication Service Providers (CSPs),” said analyst Robert Curran. “It looks like the industry is stepping up to the calls for greater openness, speed and diversity. And this is just the beginning.”
“The major investments and support being given by large vendors to Open RAN explicitly (Dell’s is the just the latest example), will take time to have impact – but impact they will surely have,” he added.
The Appledore OpenRAN report is at appledoreresearch.com
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