TCO still tops Open RAN sector focus poll

  • TelecomTV has just held its fifth Open RAN Summit
  • As ever, we asked attendees to identify the most important areas of focus for the Open RAN community
  • More than 220 people voted
  • For the third year running, total cost of ownership (TCO) models garnered the greatest number of votes
  • But attendees also want to see more trials and deployments

For the third year in a row, attendees at TelecomTV’s Open RAN Summit have identified total cost of ownership (TCO) as the most important area of focus for a sector that is still weighed down by economic concerns and a lack of broad adoption. 

As ever, we conducted an audience poll during the recent Open RAN Summit, our fifth online event focused on this still divisive topic. We asked attendees for guidance on where the sector should focus its energies and attention – and more than 220 people cast their votes. 

The poll question was the same as we asked during the previous two Open RAN Summits, allowing us to identify any significant changes as the sector develops: ‘Which are the most important areas of focus for the Open RAN community over the next 12 months?’ Respondents could select more than one option.

Just as it did in 2022 and then again last year, the development of TCO models and analysis attracted the most votes, with 53% of those who voted selecting this option. This shows that the economics associated with Open RAN deployments are still a major concern – that’s understandable at a time when network operator capex budgets are shrinking, margins are being squeezed and raw data about any real-world cost benefits of running disaggregated radio access networks is hard to come by. 

To hammer home the point that many in the industry are seeking peer feedback and data based on meaningful deployments, 52% of our respondents identified ‘More field trials and trials to assess Open RAN at scale’ as the second most important area of focus for the Open RAN community in the coming year. 

In the same vein, 45% of our respondents believe it’s key for the sector to focus on gaining ‘Operator commitment to wider commercial rollouts’ in order to enable greater scale, insight and experience. There have certainly been signs that more operators are taking the plunge and committing to next-generation, non-traditional RAN architectures, especially in North America where AT&T and Canada’s Telus have been making headlines, but the industry wants to see a lot more. 

The sector isn’t putting everything else on hold to wait for more operator commitments and field trials, though – our summit audience is keen to see a greater focus on some of the next-step developments in the Open RAN sector, as 44% of respondents want to community to focus on the ‘Development of the RIC [RAN intelligent controller] platform’, though it should be noted that this score is roughly in line with the past couple of years (up from 2022, down slightly from 2023). 

The development of RIC platforms seems a greater concern right now than the need for the applications that will run on those platforms, as only 34% of our respondents believe that ‘Creation of a developer ecosystem for xApps and rApps’ is of paramount importance just now. 

It’s also worth noting that the ‘Acceleration of specifications and standards alignment’ only attracted votes from 27% of our respondents, though whether this means that plenty has already been achieved or whether it is not of paramount importance to the community is not known. 

You can catch up with all the sessions from the Open RAN Summit here and keep up to date with all of our Open RAN coverage in our dedicated channel

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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