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Mavenir and Open RAN Prospects Gain Sustainability Boost for 2023

By Ron Westfall - January 18, 2023
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The News: Mavenir seeks to use its own deployment experiences to reduce hardware and improve efficiencies across RAN implementations to aid operators in their mission to fulfill organization-wide sustainability goals such as net zero emissions. Rapidly expanding 5G deployments, hardware densification, and 5G New Radio are leading to greater energy consumption across 5G networks. However, Open RAN technologies can contribute substantially toward providing a path forward for 5G networks to attain net zero emissions. Read the Mavenir Blog here.

Mavenir and Open RAN Prospects Gain Sustainability Boost for 2023

Analyst Take: Mavenir is steadfast in its strategic commitment to the Open RAN cause, and with good reason. The persistence can pay more tangible benefits in 2023 as sustainability considerations, such as meeting net zero emission targets, increasingly factor into communications service provider (CSP) decision making in the buildout of their 5G networks, especially 5G standalone (SA) capabilities.

It is estimated the RANs are responsible for anywhere between 70 to 85% of the total energy consumption in a mobile network. From my view, the 5G ecosystem, particularly, CSPs, should prioritize examining the components within RAN to optimize efficiency and develop a compelling business incentive by driving down operational costs. Overall, CSPs are responsible for 2% to 3% of global energy demand, making the adoption of more sustainable practices a top organization-wide priority.

Throughout mobile network implementations, RAN requires substantial energy amounts to run. To aid the telecom industry in transitioning away from traditional energy-intensive RAN technology, I expect that open RAN capabilities such as operating the distributed unit (DU) and central unit (CU) in the cloud will gain ever more consideration in the RAN selection process. Through the cloud, CSPs can lessen the hardware and materials required to build out mobile infrastructure, particularly 5G SA.

Today the power consumption of a 5G base station is led by the radio unit (RU) whose power amplifiers (PA) consume most of the energy, indicating that improvements in PA power efficiency can produce considerable power savings. Additionally, broader adoption of CU/DU processor power management can further improve RAN energy savings by operating CU/DU software on the cloud on a virtualized platform to attain energy efficiency gains in data center operations.

I expect that RAN automation will play an increasingly integral role in advancing energy conservation as artificial intelligence (AI) engines and machine learning (ML) can optimize traffic load optimization including identifying the parts of the network that can go in sleep mode when demand wanes. RAN intelligent controller (RIC) technology can use AI/ML to maximize automation techniques throughout Open RAN architectures, particularly in providing the intelligence key to application (i.e., xApps, rApps) optimization in areas such as management, troubleshooting, and beamforming.

From my perspective, Open RAN went through the marketing hype cycle with high expectations accompanying the technology starting in 2020. Subsequently, Open RAN’s market progress has proven mixed, especially throughout major CSP brownfield environments. Major CSPs such as Vodafone, Telefonica, Telecom Italia (TIM), Orange, and Deutsche Telekom have championed Open RAN, although they have engaged in only trials and niche deployments to date. Thus far, greenfield deployments in Japan (Rakuten Mobile), U.S. (Dish), and Germany (1&1) have generated some marketing novelty and sizzle, although sizable market inroads are still a work in progress.

I find Mavenir well-positioned to take advantage of CSP sustainability priorities to advance ecosystem-wide Open RAN adoption due to its portfolio-wide development and marketing focus on cloud-native software. Mavenir faces stiff competition in winning new business going up against players such as Open RAN specialist Rakuten Symphony as well as established RAN players Nokia, NEC, Samsung, and Fujitsu as they build out their Open RAN portfolios. Even Open RAN skeptic Ericsson is anticipating gathering market momentum toward Open RAN as indicated by CEO Börje Ekholm’s acknowledgement that the technology will start impacting its revenues and the evolution of CSP business models starting in 2023.

Key Takeaways: Mavenir and Open RAN Prospects Brighten in 2023

I believe that CSP sustainability initiatives, such as fulfilling government net zero emission targets and mandates, can help accelerate adoption of Open RAN in 2023 and beyond. The sustainability objectives also align with government initiatives that support Open RAN due to geopolitical considerations such as banning China-originated RAN equipment from suppliers such as Huawei and potentially spurring domestic employment related to Open RAN supply chains. Combined with the sustained backing of major CSP operators seeking less reliance on proprietary RAN solutions and more supplier flexibility, the prospects for Mavenir and Open RAN are brightening in 2023.

Disclosure: Futurum Research is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of Futurum Research as a whole.

Other insights from Futurum Research:

5G Factor Video Research Note: Deutsche Telekom Gives Mavenir Thumbs Up to Replace Huawei and Deliver Cloud-Native 5G Core

Mavenir and Aspire Technology Aspire to Advance Open RAN Market Availability

Qualcomm and Vodafone Provide New Level Set for 5G Open RAN Prospects

Image Credit: Mavenir

The original version of this article was first published on Futurum Research.

About the Author

Ron Westfall is a Senior Contributor to Good Equals Progress, and a Senior Analyst and Research Director for Futurum Research. He is an experienced research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets.