5G ORAN In-Building Network Design | Mobile Network Operator (MNO) Considerations | Corning

Top 3 Considerations for Building Owners for 5G ORAN Indoors

By Shirish Nagaraj
Published: January 12, 2023

In our prior blog, we highlighted the considerations made by mobile network operators (MNOs) as they make critical network architecture and technology decisions for their in-building networks. Increasingly integral to the decision-making are the real estate or building owners (REOs) who are also the recipients, and likely owners, of the network.

This blog will focus on the REO perspective as they design and deploy their future-proof in-building mobility network (RAN). With REOs increasingly funding the network, the decision on the network architecture is critical for them as the network needs to deliver value accretion for their investment in the building. However, it’s important to know that simply ensuring the phone works in the building for the users doesn’t suffice anymore. Today’s REO has to accommodate social media usage and online work-collaboration platforms that have to be accessible and, more importantly, work seamlessly in a mobile environment. REOs ultimately have to assess the impact of the network on aesthetics, cost, security, and building services that they want to enable within their real estate. This is where 5G ORAN becomes the game-changer.

First, we need a quick primer on what ORAN is, and how and when we expect the transition from the traditional centralized RAN (CRAN) architecture to ORAN to occur. By definition, ORAN supports an open vendor environment promoting best-of-breed component use, interoperability, and a predominantly software-based, cloud-native RAN architecture. MNOs opting for CRAN have been tied down to select vendors, often leading to increased cost of ownership including costly upgrades. There are significant barriers to entry for newer vendors in a CRAN deployment. While ORAN promises reduced cost, the architecture promotes innovation and service enhancement for the users of ultra-fast, high-bandwidth, and low-latency networks. Additionally, leveraging cloud ensures flexibility, agility, and scalability in a secured network setting.

In terms of timing, ORAN in-building deployments are occurring today and while CRAN and ORAN will continue to coexist for a few years to come, the increasing focus will be on 5G ORAN deployments given the inherent benefits. Listed below are some of the key considerations REOs need to make before selecting their network architecture. Please note that not every ORAN architecture will implement every aspect of the ORAN standard, or for that matter the 5G standard. Our Corning staff is available to answer any questions you may have.


A significant consideration for the REO is that of service enablement. A 5G ORAN architecture typically depends upon a shared infrastructure in support of a neutral-host environment. The 5G ORAN shared infrastructure will require a high-capacity fiber backbone that can support multiple MNOs for their voice, data, and video connectivity while enabling value-add tenant amenities. Access to emergency services for everyone in the building with a cellphone - from a dedicated network built with redundancy - is one potential benefit for REOs. This is important as they endeavor to attract and retain high-quality tenants by offering a truly connected experience, improved building amenities, and provide health and safety assurances.

The common fiber deployement can support both public and private mobile networks. A private mobile network is important for the REO to ensure its staff and tenants are able to work in a secure, high-performing network with service level guarantees matching that of the public network. The ability to support both public and private networks from a common infrastructure reduces the cost of ownership. It’s critical for the REO to have a multi-carrier network to address the connectivity needs of all its users, maintain building aesthetics, and minimize noise and distractions for the tenants during any upgrades. The shared infrastructure, enabled by 5G ORAN architecture, provides the optimal path forward on all fronts.  


A large part of the operational expenditure for any REO, or enterprise tenant in a building, can be attributed to energy consumption. While REOs invest in energy conserving glass panes, increasingly done in green buildings, these elements typically obstruct wireless signals from the macros outdoors and require investments in an in-building mobility network. 5G ORAN is a good choice for REOs looking at energy savings as they are inherently energy efficient (EE) providing features like auto shut-off where radios automatically turn off if not in use. In addition, the radios are typically low-powered while delivering high user throughput and improved network performance. This leads to greater energy efficiency in the network, lower operational costs, and improved carbon footprint for the building.

Additionally, as a software-enabled and cloud-native solution, 5G ORAN is typically an extendable and flexible virtual platform supporting a “pay-as-you-grow” option. The key is in ensuring that the fiber runs extend effectively from the vertical riser to the horizontal edges of the building. This fiber-deep approach is an important element of the 5G ORAN where latency, speed, capacity, and performance are by-products of the network architecture.


All of this leads to the all-important consideration of the design, integration, and delivery of the ORAN for the REO. As a 5G ORAN involves multiple interoperating network elements and requires virtualization, there is a need for a trusted partner - for the REO - that has the technical capabilities and consultative approach required to make this a team success. In our last blog we touched on the complexity of system integration for the MNO. An REO effectively needs more than a systems integrator. The technology partner for REO needs to be integral to the end-to-end network delivery and ongoing management of the shared and future-proof network.

The radios of the future are band and frequency agnostic. Connectivity is all-fiber. The RAN elements are residing in the cloud and not physically present on the premises. Effectively the complexities may be slightly higher for the REO as the number of vendors have increased with ORAN fostering competition. However, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is real as 5G ORAN opens doors to innovative new offerings. This is where our team at Corning distinguishes itself. Not only are we technology innovators, but we are also a highly customer-driven organization that is working hand-in-hand with our customers to ensure that the technology is well designed and implemented in our customer’s network for the long term.

We encourage you to follow our Blog, The Signal, as we will continue to share pertinent 5G ORAN thought leadership 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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