Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) | 5G infrastructure | Corning

Redefining the Radio Access Network (RAN) with 5G Open RAN (ORAN)

By Shirish Nagaraj
Published: October 12, 2022

Our wireless industry has been at the forefront of change with the advent of data and video transforming the way we communicate and connect with each other. While the underlying wireless infrastructure has evolved tremendously over the years, the vendor ecosystem has been limited to a few companies leading to a closed architecture which has perhaps curtailed growth.

The wireless industry could be on the precipice of a revolution in which all this may change. The wireless infrastructure of the future may rely increasingly on flexible, scalable, open architecture and we are pleased to share that Corning is spearheading the development of the game-changing Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) that is redefining the RAN ecosystem for 5G. While ORAN could be the way of the future, a balanced RAN approach will prevail in the coming few years where the proven centralized RAN (CRAN) and the new ORAN will co-exist. Increasingly 5G will leverage an ORAN architecture, with the expectation that 6G and beyond will be based primarily on an ORAN architecture leading to vendor diversity and higher performance.

Corning has extensive experience with in-building wireless networks, and we have now taken a leading position in the work being conducted in our industry around ORAN delivering 5G indoors. Over the coming weeks, we will share with you our insight about where ORAN is today and where we believe it is heading. We will be detailing how 5G ORAN will be imperative for the future of in-building wireless infrastructure and the key considerations for building open networks of the future.

ORAN 101 – Understanding Open Radio Access Network (ORAN)

Over the decades, RANs have been vendor and carrier centric operating in a closed environment. In the past few years, the CRAN architecture affected a major topology change with baseband units (BBUs) aggregated in CRAN hubs and dedicated fiber runs to cell sites. Reduced latency, higher performance, and reduced infrastructure costs were realized in CRAN deployments.

However, CRANs are also limited by their closed architecture with vendor lock-in erecting barriers to entry for best-in-class component providers. The introduction of ORAN could change everything, and we have a lot to look forward to in the industry with 5G ORAN poised to deliver huge benefits for the mobile network operators (MNOs) and building owners (REITs).

With vendor interoperability and software-based cloud-native RAN, the aperture has opened wide. ORANs provide carriers the ability to use disparate best-in-class vendor components. Besides cost savings, the openness of the ORAN architecture makes the network increasingly efficient. The cloud environment delivers key benefits including flexibility, agility, and scalability of the network. Secured access and complete control of data, access, and workflows are provided within the cloud environments eliminating any security and interoperability concerns.

While vendor diversity delivers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) with reduced CapEx and OpEx, the additional benefit is the promise of true convergence. There is a unification of the RAN environment possible with the macro and small cell networks having a consolidated RAN. While a lot of development still needs to happen, our belief is that the path to true convergence is in the integration of outdoor and indoor networks to make connectivity increasingly more efficient, economical, and powerful.

5G ORAN – A Neutral Host Opportunity

5G ORAN is a true neutral host opportunity with support for all access topologies including macros, DAS, and small cells. With the increasing focus on mid-band deployments for 5G, especially C-Band, the role played by ORAN to provide a multi-carrier and multi-band 5G service becomes imperative. A neutral-host (NH) operator typically designs, builds, deploys, and operates a multi-carrier 4G LTE and 5G network today. Adopting an open architecture with 5G ORAN will allow the NH operator to bring extensive savings with the ability to use multiple vendor components.

A primary obstacle for in-building 4G LTE and 5G networks is the limitations carriers face to provide signal indoor, typically due to the high costs involved. With ORAN the cost structure changes and the TCO for the NH operator is greatly reduced. This should result in carriers’ increased ability to provide their service in buildings and venues, leading to a higher propensity of multi-carrier networks and a better-connected experience for all.

We look forward to sharing our thoughts on in-building 5G ORAN deployments covering both the business and technical aspects of designing, building, and provisioning the network in our upcoming blogs. Our Corning team is actively working towards bringing high performance in-building wireless networks with ORAN to benefit one and all. Follow us in future BLOGS where we will share use cases, learnings, and observations over the coming weeks.

Until then, stay safe and healthy!


Shirish Nagaraj leads technology development for Corning Optical Communications’ Wireless business unit, which delivers world-leading in-building cellular products for Tier-1 operators. He has been instrumental in conceptualizing, architecting, and developing the 5G mmWave small-cell system that is now deployed commercially at high profile stadiums, private enterprises, and other such venues. His team develops radio access network (RAN) and distributed antenna systems (DAS) software and hardware, with development centers in the US, Israel, and India.

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