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As 5G begins to weave its way into every industry across the globe, service providers are under more pressure than ever to evolve and scale with increased efficiency. At the heart of this transformation lies cloud-native, open source innovation that helps form the foundation for future connectivity from the core, all the way out to the edge - leveraging a ubiquitous, secure, common infrastructure platform. 

The telecommunications industry is in the process of revolutionizing radio access networks (RAN) by shifting to containers and capitalizing on virtualized RAN. According to a report published by Analysys Mason, service provider spending on products in the RAN market will grow to reach $41.3 billion in 2025 as service providers deploy 5G networks, improve their non-5G network capacity and coverage and implement vRAN. 

As investment in RAN picks up, many service providers will likely look to trial and deploy vRAN and open RAN technology, especially as vendors decouple software from hardware and deliver more optimized cloud-native solutions. This provides CSPs and DSPs with greater freedom of choice and enables them to select the best software functions and hardware from the offerings of different vendors that fit their own unique needs. Having an open horizontal cloud-native software platform that pre-integrates with a broad ecosystem of these vendors helps simplify deployments of the chosen solutions. Open RAN technologies help drive this progress forward more swiftly and with greater efficiency, bringing automated deployment and provisioning for scalability while building a more secure and stable operating environment. 

“Last year, the uptick in conversations around vRAN was undeniable. This year, the market is beginning to showcase what that shift will actually look like. As many service providers take on their own RAN transformations, they are beginning to see how vRAN and open RAN will unlock automation practices that enhance their revenue streams, increase agility and greatly improve their day to day operations,” says Roberto Kompany, analyst at Analysys Mason.  

RAN and Red Hat

Red Hat is building a bridge for customers to embrace the open RAN movement, connecting business needs with the underlying technologies through our open source expertise. As part of this ongoing commitment, Red Hat has created a new dedicated ecosystem engineering team focused on collaboration with partners, and has added more than 250 engineers dedicated to solutions in the RAN space this year. Red Hat has also invested approximately $25 million in engineering resources toward partnerships and Red Hat labs that are focused on innovation for RAN.

Additionally, Red Hat is extending our reference architectures to help transform mobile network infrastructures. By working with AltiostarIntel, Mavenir, Nokia, Samsung, and others, customers will be able to deploy pre-integrated open RAN components from different vendors, coordinating the design for their specific needs. One example of this includes our aligned efforts with Intel to help move 5G, networking innovation and related features more quickly into upstream open-source projects.  With this ecosystem, Red Hat helps to drive cloud-native open RAN solutions with zero touch provisioning (ZTP) that enable greater control over costs and speed deployment at thousands of locations, including faster installs and upgrades, integrated fault detection, higher availability, telemetry and analytics. 

It doesn’t stop there. Red Hat is focused on advancing the world’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, Red Hat OpenShift, to match the requirements of the open RAN model by:

  • Enabling the industry to build cloud-native network functions with Red Hat OpenShift, with more seamless scaling from core to edge - including containers and microservices, which are the foundation for open RAN. 

  • Certifying open RAN Kubernetes operators on Red Hat OpenShift to help accelerate automation and containerized open RAN deployments. This allows operators to take advantage of a more secure, simple, scalable and flexible way to use open RAN deployments to help lower capital expenditures and operational costs. 

  • Maximizing flexibility for service providers to deploy validated and certified RAN functions using Red Hat OpenShift on the infrastructure that best fits their business needs. They can choose with confidence among the leading server OEMs, public cloud providers and Red Hat managed cloud services.

  • Providing automated deployment and operator lifecycle management (OLM) to make installation, deployment and management simpler to help service providers stay agile and competitive with a smaller footprint and greater network security. 

As this industry continues to shift, Red Hat plans to evolve and expand its ecosystem to help make the critical functions powering the next wave of telecommunications interchangeable and interoperable. By working in the open to drive an ecosystem of innovation, Red Hat can learn, share and catalyze communities for better, faster and more reliable solutions. Most recently, Red Hat was even recognized by the GSMA GLOMO shortlist for our collaborative work in the open vRAN space with Altiostar for Best Network Software Breakthrough. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our work to secure a path to 5G with open RAN and other key technologies, check out the latest Red Hat service provider news ahead of Mobile World Congress.

About the author

Honoré LaBourdette is Vice President of the Telco, Media, Entertainment & Edge Ecosystem at Red Hat. In this role, she has global responsibility for the success of partners including NEPs, ISVs, OEMs, Global Systems Integrators and Hyperscalers. Honoré and her team work to ensure rapid deployment of cloud-native applications at scale leveraging Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technologies for 5G, OSS/BSS, cloud RAN and cloud networking, from core to cloud to the far edge.

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