by TIP News

The Middle East is seeing strong momentum behind Open RAN, driven at an operator and government level, with the ambition to lower costs and deliver more choice and innovation in the way 5G networks are built.

GCC7, a group of operators across the Middle East, which includes e& (formerly Etisalat Group), stc, Zain Group, Batelco, Mobily, Omantel and du, is driving the adoption of open and disaggregated technology across the region. In March this year, GCC7 collaborated with TIP on establishing the region’s first Open RAN test lab, which provides shared access to learnings and progress in this area. Momentum has continued, and in July, the Saudi government announced cooperation with the US on 5G Open RAN through a joint MoU.

Today, in partnership with TIP, the GCC7 MoU Group has released its learnings in the form of an Open RAN whitepaper – Open RAN for brownfield operators; challenges and opportunities – which you can download here. The white paper highlights that the adoption of Open RAN is crucial for operators to introduce cloud-native infrastructure, which can lower the TCO of 5G deployments. The whitepaper also highlights the benefits of Open RAN for private networks and how it can provide businesses with more choice, flexibility and scale versus traditional network architectures.

Vishal Marthur, Global Head of Engagement at TIP said: “GCC7 and TIP’s ongoing collaboration continues to provide direction for vendors and operators that are looking to deploy 5G networks based on Open RAN infrastructure. We hope the whitepaper will continue to foster an open and multi-vendor environment for 5G. It will help operators introduce virtualized network functions, artificial intelligence and machine learning into networks, which will help improve their 5G networks and lay the groundwork for 6G.”

In line with the principles of Open RAN, TIP is also calling on more companies to collaborate on the development of Open RAN across the region. Vishal Marthur added: “We want to inspire more vendors to adopt open interfaces and support new entrants that will enhance the vendor ecosystem. If a broader range of companies are involved with Open RAN, more commercial-grade Open RAN products will hit the market, leading to faster TCO reduction for RAN deployments. We want to build a framework where more companies are regularly releasing their learnings, like our whitepaper, to accelerate OpenRAN deployments.”

Looking to the future, TIP will be exploring the possibility of having an OpenRAN Plug Fest with the GCC7, and establishing better test and validation processes for OpenRAN, which includes O-RAN ALLIANCE architecture validation.