With each passing day, 5G networks inch closer to a mainstream reality as next-gen wireless technology is deployed across the globe. Fully realized, 5G networks have the potential to deliver immense benefits. Indeed, the proliferation of software-enabled 5G networks is projected to drive billions of dollars in growth and create thousands of new jobs in both deploying 5G infrastructure and developing applications that harness 5G’s capabilities. With so much at stake, policymakers and industry players face choices that will have ramifications for decades to come as they design, fund, and deploy the critical radio access networks (RAN) that will form the backbone of 5G network infrastructure.
Enter the concept of Open RAN, a different approach for developing the antennas and related RAN hardware used in 5G. Open RAN is designed with open standards, cybersecurity, interoperability, and transparency at the fore. This issue brief explains what “Open RAN” means and describes how software-based Open RAN systems will maximize the benefits of 5G wireless networks.