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Open radio access networks (O-RAN)

The radio access network as a critical part of the whole infrastructure connects devices to the mobile network, thereby acting as an avenue to key applications on the web. O-RAN, now ready for 5G rollout, is not necessarily a new technology itself. Instead, it is an industry concept or philosophy that combines existing technologies including virtualization, AI, big data, commercial off-the-shelf parts, and open interoperable interfaces from different vendors. The O-RAN solution allows the disaggregation of hardware and software and is designed to be cloud native. It is becoming software-defined and programmable.

The emerging multi-supplier O-RAN is a controversial topic among the 5G community, and in the literature. It will provide an opportunity for new players to enter the USD 3,200 million market as predicted for 2024. Besides the notable benefits resulting from the overcoming of closed, proprietary architectures to create platforms offering faster innovation speed, lower consumer prices through greater competition and better quality, some trade-offs such as energy efficiency or cyber security are still questionable, especially from the viewpoint of European technological sovereignty and effective market regulation.