Ericsson Head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling called into the Telecom Infra Project’s FYUZ event in Madrid, Spain today to talk about Ericsson’s interest in open radio access networks (open RAN).
He said, “We think it’s time now to create the next chapter in our industry and define the future of telecom. I think it’s time for the industry to come together and shape this future. We want to build a 5G network platform leveraging cloud-native technologies built on open RAN standardized interfaces.”
Ericsson has not, to date, been a huge proponent of open RAN, likely because the movement is designed to introduce more competition in the telecom vendor space of which Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei have been the primary vendors.
But Ericsson is starting to, if not warm to the technology, at least acknowledge that’s where the industry is going. To its credit, the company has been an active participant in the O-RAN Alliance.
In late September, Ericsson announced it will introduce support for open fronthaul across its radio portfolios starting in 2024. Ericsson has deployed over 1 million radios that are hardware-ready for open fronthaul technology that would allow them to be connected via open interfaces.
Ericsson now has a complete open RAN-ready offering across its Massive MIMO and remote radio portfolios. And it will introduce support for open fronthaul in its Cloud RAN portfolio, next year.
Today, Jejdling said, “From a hardware perspective we have about 1 million open RAN-ready radios deployed in the networks today. But it’s going to be a gradual evolution over time in terms of software to enable that, starting in 2024.” He wouldn’t be pinned down on exactly when in 2024.
Ericsson defines three pillars of open RAN: open fronthaul, cloudification and open management for network programmability.
At TIP’s event today, Jejdling focused on the cloudification of networks. He said Ericsson wants to help operators build more software-defined, horizontal networks that will allow developers to access the network and build applications on them via exposed APIs.
“There is one level based on building an open 5G network based on O-RAN,” said Jejdling. “On top of that there is the ability for us as an industry to expose that and come together as an industry and capitalize on that together and secure revenue generation in our networks.”
In regard to the open-RAN-ready radios he said, “While we have a hardware-ready deployment as we announced a couple of weeks back, now comes the point in time where we work on the software. The more important thing for us is that we figure out how to build networks that are more horizontally architected.”
In 2022 Ericsson acquired New Jersey-based cloud communications provider Vonage Holdings for about $6.2 billon. At the time Ericsson said it planned use Vonage’s developer ecosystem to help wireless operators better monetize 5G.
Today, Jejdling mentioned Vonage and said Ericsson’s expertise in building networks, combined with Vonage’s network application programming interfaces (APIs) will generate a more agile way of exposing network functions to developers.