Building alternative RANs to connect the unconnected

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The Digital Service Provider, Episode 1.29

According to the latest figures from the ITU, 97% of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal (although this drops to 93% for 3G or 4G). Overall, this is a great testament to the success of cellular, however, there are significant geographical differences. For example, 3G coverage in Africa falls to 79% and even within highly developed markets there are regions and pockets of low- or no-coverage. Also, this success doesn’t correlate with online access, with the ITU reporting that 46% of the global population, or 3.6 billion people, are still without Internet access. So there is plenty of room for improvement. But how?
Why can’t our legacy approaches fulfil the demand to connect these communities, what’s wrong with the current model? The favoured alternative approach being developed is to use “open RAN” models and architectures that leverage virtualisation and disaggregation to expand the supplier ecosystem, reduce costs of deployment and operation, and increase the vendor options for CSPs.
Whilst we are seeing some limited deployments now, there is still much work to be done if the industry is to succeed with its overhaul of the RAN ecosystem, which will prove whether or not open RAN can become a viable mass-market commercial alternative. 
  • Daniel Lynch, Segment Marketing Director, Intel Corporation
  • Mark Longwell, Director, Openstack Partner Ecosystem, Red Hat
Filmed at: TelecomTV Studios, London, November 2019

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