Tech companies invest in R&D and innovation solutions to push Open RAN adoption and deployment

With a potential to revolutionize the telecommunications landscape, Open RAN is levelling the playing field, with both big and small technology companies taking advantage of the technology’s promise of enhanced flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and innovation. In a bid to accelerate the deployment of Open RAN technology, tech companies are increasingly ramping up their investments in R&D and innovation initiatives. 

The tech companies that were visited as part of the Study Tour recognize the inherent connection of R&D and innovation in addressing industry challenges in the Open RAN space to drive its adoption and deployment. 

As a systems integrator, KCCTech takes part in the OpenRAN ecosystem. The company’s Network in box (NiB) supports a ready-in-minutes portable 5G stand-alone network and private network solution that can be used to test 5G before production, and to deploy private 5G networks for various use cases. KCCTech also provides a Lab As A Service (LaaS) solution that offers a seamless process for the setup, operation, testing, and analysis of multi-vendor configurations and vendor interoperability.  According to AORA Chair Achie Atienza on the KCCTech visit, “This visit marks a significant step towards building our own lab, which aims to advance Open RAN education, build strong competencies, and foster an ecosystem for vendors and operators in the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific.” 

NVIDIA, world leader in Artificial Intelligence Computing, is driving fast-paced innovation in 5G software and hardware across the ecosystem with its OpenRAN-compatible 5G portfolio. Accelerated computing hardware and NVIDIA Aerial 5G software are delivering solutions for key industry stakeholders such as telcos, cloud service providers (CSPs), enterprises, and academic researchers. AORA Vice Chair Maria Corazon Akol shares, “This visit presented us with a glimpse into how NVIDIA is integrating Open RAN technology into its expansive array of innovations, particularly in the realm of AI and computing. Their exploration into Open RAN is setting new standards for efficiency, scalability, and flexibility in network infrastructure, proving that the potential of 5G extends far beyond traditional telecommunications, touching every aspect of technology that drives our world forward.”

DISH Wireless, pioneer in deploying America’s First Smart Network, continues to innovate in wireless technologies, building the nation’s first virtualized Open RAN 5G broadband network. In 2023, DISH received a $50 million grant from NTIA to establish the Open RAN Center for Integration & Deployment (ORCID), to test and validate hardware and software solutions against DISH’s Open RAN network with Fujitsu, Mavenir, & VMWare. This ambitious project exemplifies the transformative potential of Open RAN to create more flexible, scalable, and efficient network infrastructures, empowering operators to meet the evolving demands of consumers and industries alike. AORA Board Secretary Dr. Alvin Marcelo says, “This visit unveiled Dish Wireless’ pioneering strides in leveraging Open RAN technology within its latest network deployments, showcasing a bold vision for the future of telecommunications in the United States. Dish Wireless, recognized for its innovation in the telecommunications sector, has embraced Open RAN as a core component of its strategy to deploy a fully virtualized 5G network across the nation.”

Mavenir, the leading vendor in Open RAN solutions in terms of market leadership, innovation and implementation, offers E2E cloud-native software and hardware solutions with a comprehensive portfolio, including an Open RAN product portfolio. In terms of R&D, Mavenir recently won two Open RAN R&D projects as part of the U.K. government’s open networks ecosystem competition to optimize Open RAN network performance in High Demand Density (HDD) environments. Currently, approximately 60% of its total workforce is working in R&D capacity. Atienza shares, “This visit offered us an in-depth look at how Mavenir is shaping the future of mobile communications through innovative Open RAN solutions. Their pioneering efforts are pivotal in advancing the role of Open RAN in enabling more competitive and innovative mobile network environments globally.”

Nokia has made significant investments in Open RAN, leading the early deployment of Ran Intelligent Controller (RIC) and the open fronthaul. The Nokia O-RAN Collaboration and Testing Center provides a collaborative, open, and impartial working environment to perform tests with the aim of launching O-RAN compliant solutions. The Center provides a venue to collaborate as well as validate different areas such as control, user, management, and synchronization plane compliance with O-RAN Alliance specifications.  Atienza furthers, “It’s impressive to see how Nokia is pushing the boundaries of telecom, making networks more flexible and quicker to deploy across the globe. Our session was packed with insightful discussions on Nokia’s approach to building sustainable and innovative digital infrastructures.”

Fujitsu has initiated collaboration in Open RAN integration with NEC Corporation and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). To streamline the integration process, Fujitsu has established the Mobile Integration and Testing Center (MITC) at Fujitsu Network Communications in the United States. MITC is a multi-vender verification lab created to efficiently validate the interoperability of equipment from different vendors not only during the initial deployment but throughout the entire lifecycle of the solution. Akol says of the visit to the company, “Fujitsu is transforming the landscape of telecom with their innovative approach to network solutions, driving greater flexibility and speed in deployments worldwide. The discussions were rich with insights about Fujitsu’s strategies for creating resilient and advanced digital networks.”

Amdocs aims to drive innovative next-generation digital experiences for its clients. Its 5G-ready, cloud-native set of solutions ensures fast time to market and flexibility to keep up with technology’s exponential pace. With Amdocs strategic cloud collaboration with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, the company has released the Amdocs amAIz Platform, a unique telco-grade and trusted GenAI framework that enables CSPs to drive innovation, automate processes and optimize decision-making. Marcelo says, “Amdocs offers flexible network solutions that expedite global service deployment in the telecom industry. Our conversations were filled with in-depth insights on Amdocs’ plans to advance digital networks through innovative and sustainable infrastructure.”

The significance of increased R&D investment in Open RAN extends beyond the realm of technology companies alone. Telecom operators, recognizing the potential of Open RAN to drive cost savings and innovation, are joining their efforts and collaborating with industry partners to accelerate adoption and deployment.

As the telecommunications landscape continues to evolve rapidly, fueled by advancements in 5G, edge computing, and IoT (Internet of Things), the momentum behind Open RAN represents a pivotal shift towards more agile, cost-effective, and sustainable network architectures. With technology companies leading the charge in R&D and innovation, the future of Open RAN appears brighter than ever, poised to unlock new possibilities and reshape the way we connect and communicate in the digital age.

This press release is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government