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What is Open-RAN Architecture ? | UPSC
WHY IN NEWS:
Recently, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman said that use of Open-RAN (Radio Access Network) and software defined telecom networks will open new opportunities for Indian entities to enter into the network equipment market.
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: COMMUNICATION : Science and technology
- Open-RAN is not a technology, but rather an ongoing shift in mobile network architecture that allows networks to be built using subcomponents from a variety of vendors.
- O-RAN has an open, multi-vendor architecture for deploying mobile networks, as opposed to the single-vendor proprietary architecture.
- O-RAN uses software to make hardware manufactured by different companies work together.
- The key concept of Open RAN is “opening” the protocols and interfaces between the various subcomponents (radios, hardware and software) in the RAN.
WHAT IS RADIO ACCESS NETWORK (RAN) ?
- It is the part of a telecommunications system that connects individual devices to other parts of a network through radio connections.
- As a technical matter this is what the industry refers to as a disaggregated RAN.
- OpenRAN, by contrast, is based on open interoperable interfaces between the key components of the radio network.
- This means that different hardware components, and the software that controls them, can be supplied by different vendors, according to the needs of the operator.
COMPONENTS OF RAN
- The Radio Unit (RU) is where the radio frequency signals are transmitted, received, amplified and digitized. The RU is located near, or integrated into, the antenna.
- The Distributed Unit (DU) is where the real-time, baseband processing functions reside. The DU can be centralized or located near the cell site.
- The Centralized Unit (CU) is where the less time-sensitive packet processing functions typically reside.
FUNCTIONING OF OPEN RAN
- It is the interface between the RU, DU and the CU that are the main focus of Open RAN.
- By opening and standardizing these interfaces (among others in the network), and incentivizing implementation of the same, networks can be deployed with a more modular design without being dependent upon a single vendor.
- Making these changes can also allow the DU and CU to be run as virtualized software functions on vendor-neutral hardware.
- In a traditional RAN system, the radio, hardware and software are proprietary.
- This means that nearly all of the equipment comes from one supplier and that operators are unable to, for example, deploy a network using radios from one vendor with hardware and software from another vendor.
- Mixing and matching cell sites from different providers typically leads to a performance reduction.
- The result is that most network operators, while supporting multiple RAN vendors, will deploy networks using a single vendor in a geographic region which can create vendor lock-in with high barriers to entry for new innovators.
ADVANTAGE OF O-RAN
- INNOVATION AND OPTIONS : An open environment expands the ecosystem, and with more vendors providing the building blocks, there is more innovation and more options for the Operators. They can also add new services.
- NEW OPPORTUNITIES : It will open new opportunities for Indian entities to enter into the network equipment market.
- COST SAVING : The benefits of this approach also include increased network agility and flexibility, and cost savings.