MWC LV: Ericsson dives into the Open RAN ocean

  • Ericsson plans to first deliver an Open fronthaul interface

  • This will be followed by Open RAN gear in that will be first available 2024

  • This looks like bad news for the minnows of the Open RAN world

Mobile World Congress Las Vegas – Ericsson is in Las Vegas to shout that the company is really serious about Open RAN and plans to have fully compliant kit in place by 2024.

Paul Challoner, vice president of network product solutions at Ericsson was on hand to talk with Silverlinings at about Ericsson’s Open RAN plans. The vendor is delivering the Open fronthaul interface, which connects the radio to the baseband, next year, and plans to have Open RAN compliant equipment for sale in 2024, he said.

“It’s Open RAN done right,” Challoner claimed. “We can really industrialize it and go to mass market.”

The chess pieces are in place now to be able to do that and open up the the ecosystem for mass market, he added. The veep noted that 1 million radios are already hardware prepared for the open fronthaul interface, declaring this as one of the “proof points” that Ericsson is “fully committed” to Open RAN.

The aim, he claimed, is to build the Resilient Open Sustainable and Intelligent (ROSI) networks of the future.

Wither Open RAN contenders?

The news of Ericsson making bigger waves in the Open RAN sea is more troubling news for the smaller Open RAN vendors that cloud the open ocean at the moment, like Mavenir.

“Ericsson will have O-RAN compliant equipment in 2024,” Earl Lum president of EJL Wireless told Silverlinings. “Samsung has compliant gear now, presumably Nokia will also have O-RAN complaint equipment next year...Why would operators buy from anyone else?” Lum asks.

While Huawei is clearly the great white shark of telecom vendors these days, Ericsson is still a respectable (if smaller) Tuna-sized telco predator (and Huawei isn’t even in the Open RAN game, at least not yet!). Compared to Ericsson, Open RAN vendors like Mavenir are mere anchovies in the telco food chain.

“The bloom is off the rose,” Appledore Research’s founder Patrick Kelly said of the Open-RAN scene in general while at the show. He noted that if operators are going to take a chance on O-RAN they will increasingly buy from bigger vendors like Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.

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