20 May 2022

Beyond vendor diversity with Open RAN

Governments worldwide – including in the UK – have made it a key objective to increase vendor diversity in their telecommunications networks. Open-interface solutions like Open RAN can help them achieve that. 

The UK is a leader here. It’s forged ahead of other governments with big efforts to support the development and adoption of Open RAN – not just with talk but action. UK Government recently announced its Open RAN principles and it’s earmarked £250m funding for Open RAN development. 

The intersection between Open and private networks  

Open RAN is a new way of deploying networks, and there is enormous potential for it to encourage vendor diversity. There is also enormous potential in the intersection between Open RAN and 5G private networks.  

A 5G private network provides a private mobile network exclusively for use by a single organisation to operate a range of authorised devices. This includes private operational networks for airports like the one at Cologne Bonn or advanced manufacturing facilities such as Ford’s Dunton Campus

As 5G expands the mobile ecosystem into new industries it helps technology innovation flourish in new and different ways, including: 

  • precision agriculture  
  • construction and mining  
  • digitised education  
  • connected healthcare 
  • richer mobile experience via in-venue solutions 
  • smart manufacturing  
  • intelligent retail 
  • smart cities. 

These are widely diverse uses with specific and individual needs. What a rural Dorset farm needs for per plant farming will differ wildly from a big US retailer monitoring stock levels in its flagship Arkansas store. And different functional needs need different and often very specific solutions to meet them. 

Mixing and matching 

Open RAN interfaces – defined and built on global standards – provide a new way of deploying mobile networks. They offer a new level of flexibility, too. When you apply that to 5G private networks, you can mix and match different vendors’ components or solutions to meet the demands of the task you’re trying to achieve or the environment you’re trying to create.

Beyond that, 5G private networks built on Open RAN standards also create whole new commercial opportunities. Mobile networks can monetise their expertise and existing spectrum assignments beyond airtime and handset customers into new areas like building networks for the verticals mentioned above.  

Collaboration is crucial 

At the forefront of 5G, Qualcomm is also leading the way on private networks and Open RAN. Through technology innovation, partnering, and contributing to standards, we’re enabling high performing 5G private networks to meet the needs of businesses and public sector bodies worldwide. 

Collaboration between Governments, vendors and networks will be crucial to the success of Open RAN. To drive its development forward, we’ve recently announced we are working with Vodafone to develop Open RAN blueprints, with Mavenir to accelerate their next-gen 5G infrastructure and with Fujitsu to develop a global mmWave Solution. 

On top of these partnerships, our engineers are collaborating on standards with organisations like 3GPP, the ORAN alliance and the Small Cell Forum, especially on the 5G FAPI standard. An essential part of Open RAN technology in 5G private networks, FAPI is a good example of our approach to building horizontal technology foundations. 

Horizontal foundations let you deploy innovative, high-performance, virtualised, and disaggregated 5G networks at scale. Another reason that Open RAN is the ultimate 5G private networks catalyst.  

Private Networks User Guides & podcast

Private networks: a new user guide by techUK

Our #techUKPrivateNetworks campaign week celebrated the publication of a new user guide techUK has produced, to help prospective private networks customers, across enterprise and the public sector, understand the key benefits of adopting advanced connectivity in their organisations. The guide helps users as they formulate a business case for investing in enhanced private networks, and the key success factors. We also shine a spotlight on several case studies. 

Private networks: a techUK user guide

Gain a clear understanding of the benefits of adopting private network technology for your business with this techUK user guide.

Download for free

Private network ecosystem: Management model - A new techUK guide

techUK's Advanced Communications Services Working Group created a new guide for organisations considering building out services using 5G networking technology entitled 'Private network ecosystem: Management model'

It introduces and describes the principles of neutral hosts, and then goes on to describe the architecture and ecosystem which supports the provision of shared services, particularly in the context of high capacity/low latency applications, which will drive 5G deployment. While this paper is focussed on 5G, many of the principles of neutral hosts, and the discussion of edge versus core provision will apply to other technologies such as Wi-Fi, including Wi-Fi 6.

Private network ecosystem: Management model

A technical guide by techUK for users of private networks, outlining how the ecosystem is managed. It outlines the architecture of edge native applications in the architecture of the ecosystem, the value chain and operating models, resilience, operations, and the role of Neutral Hosts. 

Download for free


The techUK podcast: Making the case for Private Networks

In this episode of the techUK podcast, we explore the topic of private networks for enterprise, specifically, how we can accelerate the deployment of private networks from beyond the testbed phase and drive adoption across industry and the public sector.  

The episode covers the key challenges for enterprise customers that the telecoms sector can address with advanced connectivity services, including 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and how we, the supplier base, can effectively deliver on the benefits of private networks. 

Sophie James, Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy at techUK, joins a conversation with Simon Parry, CTO at Nokia EnterpriseCatherine Gull, Consultant at Cellnex and Dez O’Connor, Senior Manager at Cisco. Sophie also catches up with Mike Kennett, Senior Consultant & Head of Regulatory Affairs at Freshwave



Guest blog by Tom Corcoran, Senior Manager UK & Ireland, Government Affairs at Qualcomm — Follow Qualcomm on Twitter and LinkedIn.

To read more from the Future Private Networks campaign week check out our landing page here