O-RAN, originally co-founded by AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO and Orange, has held its first O-RAN Board meeting during MWC Shanghai 2018. Seven new members were also approved including Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK telecom, Telefonica and Telstra. Together, delegates from these 12 operators successfully co-signed the Constitution Articles of the O-RAN Alliance. This symbolic occasion marks the official foundation of the operator-driven initiative.
Open to all operators globally, the O-RAN Alliance is a world-wide, carrier-led effort to drive embedded intelligence and new levels of openness in the radio access network of next generation wireless systems.
At the meeting, Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs was elected as chair of the Board and Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, was appointed as Operations Officer. In addition, Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK telecom, Telefonica and Telstra were approved as new Board members. This expands the number of Board Directors to 12. Furthermore, the Board approved the O-RAN architecture with an initial set of 7 working groups, which are:
- WG1: Use Cases & Overall Architecture
- WG2: Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) (non-Real Time) & A1 Interface
- WG3: RIC (near-Real Time) & E2 Interface
- WG4: Open Fronthaul (FH) Interface
- WG5: Stack Reference Design and F1/V1/E1/X2
- WG6: Cloudification and orchestration
- WG7: White Box Hardware
"I am very proud to see that an amazing progress has been made since MWC Barcelona," said Zhengmao Li, CTO of China Mobile, and the host of this event. "Thanks to the hard work from the team on their intense discussion, multi-lateral communication with various potential partners, O-RAN Alliance has been receiving more and more noticeable attention. Not only traditional leading players in the industry, but also lots of startups and SEM have shown great interest in us. With the successful founding meeting and Board meeting, I am very confident that from now on the O-RAN wheel will accelerate at its full speed, and ultimately make a vital contribution to the 5G deployment in the few years to come."
"We are on a journey to transform the way that communications networks are built," said Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and president, AT&T Labs. "Last year in AT&T we reached virtualization of 55% of our core network, and we joined the industry in launching ONAP to extend the reach of open virtualization and automation. The Open Networking Foundation is extending virtualization beyond the core, to rearchitect the central office and access technology. And now we are taking the next major step of this journey, to open and virtualize global wireless networks, with the founding and expansion of the O-RAN Alliance. The O-RAN Alliance will drive intelligent, open software defined networks and virtualization elements that will help 5G networks achieve their full potential and unlock new experiences for consumers and businesses around the world."
"To realize the full potential of 5G, it is essential that we evolve the full end-to-end system architecture to be more flexible, agile and efficient. We look forward now to intensifying the work with our industry partners in the O-RAN Alliance to push more openness, intelligence and programmability into the radio access network and accelerate the transformation of mobile networks," said Alex Jinsung Choi, Operations Officer of the O-RAN Alliance and SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
"The Founding & Board meetings held today, with the joining of new board members, mark a concrete and promising step for the O-RAN Alliance becoming a reality," said Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, EVP and CTO of NTT DOCOMO. "I believe that openness is the key success factor for the evolution of mobile market in the 5G era. NTT DOCOMO will contribute to O-RAN Alliance activities with our experiences of building radio access networks in collaboration with multiple partners, and will be devoted to co-create 5G markets with O-RAN Alliance members.
"The O-RAN alliance activity complements the standards developed by the 3GPP to facilitate 5G specification and deployment by pushing for open interfaces and APIs for the radio subsystem, which needs to evolve towards virtualisation as it is in the networks systems. The importance of such standards to be implemented by the industry to speed up 5G deployments and to reach large economies is crucial if we are to deliver a 5G world where connectivity should be ubiquitous in an affordable manner." Emmanuel Lugagne Delpon, senior vice president, Orange Labs Networks.
"Having been at the forefront of India's telecom revolution, Airtel is excited to be part of the alliance. We look forward to working with the alliance for creating open standards for radio networks, which can foster deployment of cost effective and 5G ready infrastructure solution. This would be help us in serving our customers with differentiated experience on our networks," said Abhay Savargaonkar, CTO of Bharti Airtel.
China Telecom EVP, Dr. Guiqing Liu said: "As well accepted, an open cellular network architecture will enable greater flexibility and potentiality of the future network, and thus facilitate the development of RAN-based applications and functionalities. O-RAN is playing a leading role in achieving this goal. As a member of O-RAN, China Telecom will make joint effort with global partners to push forward the telecommunication industry and create a more open and intelligent future."
"With 5G commercial launch on the horizon, KT is confident that O-RAN alliance is geared to offer a practical guidance to productive RAN solutions so as to further pave ways for more innovations to come for years," said Dongmyun Lee, CTO of Korea Telecom.
"We are pleased to be part of the O-RAN Alliance so we can jointly accelerate the deployment of 5G," said Mark Chong, Group CTO at Singtel. "Greater openness in the Radio Access Networks for next generation wireless technologies will help operators lower cost, increase agility and accelerate 5G deployment that will radically change the way enterprises and consumers run their lives and their businesses."
"SK telecom has been working on open innovation in 5G radio access networks (RAN) together with the world's leading mobile operators as one of the founding members of xRAN Forum. We are delighted to see the industry keep the momentum going with growing number of partners," said Jinhyo Park, CTO of SK telecom. "We are committed to the success of O-RAN alliance and looking forward to seeing more positive outcomes the alliance will bring to 5G RAN infrastructures."
"Telefonica is proud of joining the alliance in this first meeting," said Enrique Blanco, Group CTIO and representative of Telefonica at O-RAN's board. "For Telefónica, the creation of O-RAN represents a crucial step in the right direction. O-RAN will lead all aspects of a future-proof RAN design having interoperability, modularity and openness as key elements. Network density and complexity and the need for E2E digitalization of our future telco architectures demand smarter solutions for the radio network, including cost-effective open designs. O-RAN is the right vehicle to make this happen."
"Telstra welcomes the foundation of the O-RAN Alliance as a contributor in driving openness and innovation to future 5G enabled wireless networks," said Håkan Eriksson, CTO of newly invited member, Telstra.