Open RAN MoU telcos update their tech priorities

  • The five major European telcos behind the 2021 Open RAN MoU document have updated their technical priorities
  • Service management and orchestration (SMO) and RAN intelligent controller (RIC) requirements have been added
  • Open RAN security and energy efficiency details have also been expanded

The five telco giants that are driving the development of the Open RAN sector in Europe – Deutsche Telekom (DT), Orange, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefónica and Vodafone Group – have provided a joint update on the technical developments they want to see from the vendor community, focusing this time on their service management and orchestration (SMO) and RAN intelligent controller (RIC) requirements. 

Since signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) document – The Implementation of Open RAN-Based Networks In Europe – in 2021, the operators have issued two technical priorities documents:  The first focused on the main scenarios and technical requirements for each of the building blocks of a multi-vendor RAN and was published in May 2021; the second, published in March 2022, focused on energy efficiency, cloud infrastructure, data transport network requirements for the fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul sections of the network, and some SMO and RIC requirements. 

Now the Open RAN Technical Priorities Release 3 document has been published, primarily focused on further SMO, RIC, cloud infrastructure and energy efficiency requirements, as well as “security topics and various challenges introduced by the disaggregation promoted by the O-RAN architecture,” noted Vodafone in an email sent to the media.  

According to the MoU signatories, the technical priorities “serve as guidance to the RAN supplier industry on where they can focus to accelerate market deployments in Europe, focusing on commercial product availability in the short term, and solution development in the medium term. 

In addition, they “are intended to act as an input into TIP’s OpenRAN Release Framework, which can then be developed with the industry at large to create requirements that can potentially be used as the basis for certification, promoting an efficient supply chain.” However, the telcos note that the technical priorities do not “represent any alignment on procurement/product selection processes of individual signatories.”

The five operators add: “The overall objective is to promote a fast pace for the development of competitive Open RAN solutions in Europe, across other regions and ultimately accelerate the global adoption of the technology. The Open RAN MoU Group technical priorities, as with any industry-driven requirements developed through TIP, will evolve over time following the progress of Open RAN standardisation, in the respective standardisation bodies, and market development of Open RAN solutions.”

The documents can be found here

The five operators will be hoping that the latest document acts as a greatest catalyst for further focused technology development and investment, as the pace of operator tests, trials and deployments across Europe, and even among the signatories, has been slow by anyone’s standards and certainly not as fast as the quintet would like.

There has also been a very notable lack of any other signatories to the MoU: It seems Europe’s other operators are playing the waiting game to see if the leading five operators can prove that Open RAN deployments can deliver advantages over traditional integrated radio access network systems from the likes of Ericsson and Nokia (both of which, of course, claim to be avid supporters of Open RAN). 

We’ve said previously that 2023 looks like being a critical year for Open RAN, with more significant investment announcements needed by network operators if the sector is to gain the momentum and scale needed for it to prosper… and we’re already more than a quarter of the way through the year will only a few minor advances in from Vodafone, Orange and Deutsche Telekom in Europe to give the sector any joy. More will be needed. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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