Nokia to integrate Open RAN in 2020

(Image credit: Nokia)

Nokia will add open interfaces and capabilities to its radio access network (RAN) equipment by the end of 2020, allowing operators to build flexible networks that take advantage of innovations from different vendors.

Traditional methods of procurement have seen operators deploy integrated cell sites comprising radio, hardware, and software from a single supplier. This approach makes it difficult to mix and match innovations and poses a significant barrier to entry for other vendors.

The RAN market is dominated by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, but proponents of open RAN believe the use of open interfaces can lower the barriers to entry for smaller players – potentially reducing costs and driving innovation.

Nokia Open RAN

This is especially true with 5G, which has increased the appetite for a more flexible model. Operators are rearchitecting their networks with cloud and software-defined networking (SDN) so they can be more agile in terms of operations and in rolling out new services.

Nokia and Ericsson have both joined the O-RAN Alliance, one of several open RAN organisations, which has a Alliance’s 170-strong membership of operators, vendors and research institutions. Earlier this year, the O-RAN Alliance agreed a partnership with mobile industry body, the GSMA.

Nokia says the integration of Open RAN into its AirScale platform will allow operators to combine the best of its technologies with open innovations. Nokia is pitching itself as an end-to-end provider of 5G technologies, allowing operators to procure radio, transport and core products from a single vendor.

The company argues the integration of open interfaces with its AirScale radio platform with Open RAN will ensure performance and security across the radio layer of the network. The initial set of interfaces will arrive later this year, with the full suite arriving in 2021.

“Nokia is committed to leading the open mobile future by investing in Open RAN and Cloud RAN solutions with the aim of enabling a robust telecom ecosystem with strong network performance and security,” said Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.