Open RAN Is All About Open Interfaces
We are at the crossroads, and it feels appropriate to take a page out of Andrew S. Grove’s book; “Only the Paranoid Survive“, Grove reveals his strategy for measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads–when massive change occurs and a company must, virtually overnight, adapt or fall by the wayside–in a new way.
In 2004 as ETSI/3GPP was working through the specification of the front haul interfaces a group of companies formed Common Public Radio Interface (cpri.info) which produced a framework (not a complete specification) that would lock the wireless industry in 20 years of single vendor locked solutions, that some might argue, has bought the industry to its knees.
We cannot allow an end-run attempt by anyone to force their interface into the O-RAN Alliance specification and use exclusive contracts with customers to continue the proprietary vendor lock because time pressure does not allow the vendor to develop and the industry to completely settle on the “best” open and interoperable interface.
From my previous blog, Clarity on O-RAN Specification Updates for Massive MIMO Radios the new interface specifications are in the process of being specified and published – this will take time. Innovation has been a main requirement of the O-RAN alliance, and it should be allowed to complete its tasks without pressures.
Open RAN equipment needs to be built to Open specifications and all components need to be interoperable. At last week’s Open RAN North America, in Dallas, we challenged others about being backward compatible with specified interfaces, one response was “Only if there is a business case”.
Operators need to stay firm and not allow excuses to deviate from the requested requirements. To be clear the backward compatibility and minimum interfaces is specified in the O-RAN Alliance documents.
Let’s all be paranoid about what is going on here and not rush to produce standards and accept a single supplier position that will allow the repeat of 2004.