Giving a huge boost to the open and software-defined network technology consortium, leading Finnish communications technology supplier Nokia has joined the Open RAN (O-RAN) Policy Coalition.
Fundamentally, O-RAN is an open and software-defined network technology that its proponents believe has the potential to enable operators to broaden their number of network infrastructure partners and facilitate a better and more cost-effective 5G network service for customers. By disaggregating hardware and software components and leveraging open interfaces, O-RAN technology has the potential to enrich the mobile ecosystem with new solutions and business models, and an expanded multi-vendor ecosystem.
Such capability is seen as particularly useful for coverage in hard-to-reach rural locations, such as an area with a very small population, or where a sharing model is more cost-effective, such as dense urban locations where large numbers of small cells are required. Furthermore, cost-optimised O-RAN technology is also said to allow greater capacity and simpler configuration, which can potentially benefit users.
Nokia was the first major vendor to join the O-RAN Alliance and it already co-chairs the workgroups that are defining the Open Fronthaul Interface and the Near Real-Time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), which will help automate and optimise the network. Nokia has also been working within the O-RAN Alliance to help develop the open reference architectures and open interfaces that will be critical to the delivery of interoperable O-RAN solutions.
In explaining its decision to join O-RAN Policy Coalition, Nokia said it would help enable a comprehensive and secure approach to 5G and future network generations. Alongside its customers and other industry stakeholders, Nokia added that it would help shape policy choices that will affect how wireless networks are built, including support for research and development in open networks.
“Nokia believes that policymakers, operators and equipment providers should work together to support research and development of emerging network technologies that include open systems, advanced 5G technologies and foundational 6G research, with policies that support a robust ecosystem of trusted suppliers that will create a strong US position in secure wireless technology,” commented Brian Hendricks, vice-president of government relations Americas at Nokia. “We believe this coalition strongly supports this approach and we are pleased to join and help the industry move forward on this important effort.”
In addition to the O-RAN Alliance, Nokia has championed open standards in 3GPP, the Linux Foundation’s ONAP initiative, ETSI’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) initiative, and more. As well as technical contributions, Nokia supports the continued development and execution of a comprehensive strategy for open and secure RAN policy for 5G and beyond.