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The race for 5G begins in the RAN

The race for 5G from Barcelona

At MWC in Barcelona this year, operators and vendors from across the globe competed to demonstrate they are leading the race for 5G commercialisation. We’ve already seen debate in the US market, as T-Mobile and Verizon have fired shots at AT&T for claiming that a service that they are marketing as 5G, is in-fact just supercharged 4G. 

Today, 5G is primarily concerned with radio access network (RAN) technology, as the 3GPP specifications for the core network have not yet been finalised. Being first to market with 5G is, therefore, about how quickly operators can introduce 5G radios into their networks and integrate them with legacy 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure.

In order to rapidly deploy 5G, the telecom industry is exploring virtualised RAN (vRAN) and open RAN (oRAN) technology. By virtualising and opening the RAN to multiple vendors, service providers can reduce the cost of all generations of deployments, from 2G to 5G. They can then deliver 5G coverage by making deployments easy and affordable to install and maintain, while sustaining a high quality of service for customers. Operators that take this approach will be in a strong position to win the race for early 5G commercialisation.