Shabbir Bagasrawala is head of product go-to-market at Altiostar.

There are more than 5.1 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Plenty of them are streaming and downloading music, video, and other media on a daily basis, constantly exchanging data with their mobile network. And with 9.1 billion connected or IoT devices worldwide, mobile traffic could reach an annual run rate of a zettabyte in just a few years. 

According to the GSMA Intelligence research report, "4G will soon become the dominant mobile technology, surpassing half of global mobile connections in 2019 and reaching 60% in 2023.” However, 5G is already making headway globally, and with it could come a plethora of new mobile services. In fact, GSMA anticipates 1.4 billion 5G connections by 2025. 

This rising tide should lift all boats, but are telecommunications service providers ready to take advantage of all the revenue opportunities this mobile growth is bringing? The answer is “not quite,” but that could change.

To capitalize on the 5G boom, providers will need to cost-effectively expand their networks and improve their customer experience. An essential step in doing so is modernizing their existing networks to support both legacy 4G with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and the latest 5G with New Radio (NR) technology. To do this, operators need to evolve their radio access networks (RANs) to be part of a software-based cloud network which can adapt to the myriad requirements and applications of 5G.

RANs are expensive elements of mobile networks because they often require specialized hardware that is difficult to upgrade and to scale. Those aspects are very important for mobile network operators (MNOs), as without upgrades RANs can incur network issues and performance problems that impact customer experience. In parallel, MNOs are regulated to increase country-specific coverage. With constant population density increases, scaling the RAN to meet consumer demand is crucial. 

Moving to a virtual RAN (vRAN) may offer operators important benefits, including a reduced capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) over time. Additionally, RAN transformation can be boosted by network functions virtualization (NFV) technology, which changes the typical network architecture from hardware-based to software-defined infrastructure and decouples the baseband functions from the underlying hardware. In turn, the architecture is more flexible, agile, and easier to maintain, allowing operators to launch new services to market faster than ever before.

Red Hat and Altiostar

The Red Hat and Altiostar VRAN solution helps MNOs prepare for future innovation and growth. The virtualized foundation lets users easily upgrade and add new services and technologies like 5G and IoT, using the same underlying infrastructure. It supports many network topologies. Networks can be configured to pool resources across multiple cell sites and capacity can be scaled based on conditions like short-term, location-specific traffic spikes. 

Since the solution is based on the Red Hat NFV infrastructure solution, service providers can more easily develop new applications and services, or leverage third-party, cloud-native applications. In addition, Red Hat and Altiostar vRAN is built on an open source, industry-standard foundation built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenStack Platform, making it easier to support and maintain. Service providers can choose the hardware that best fits their needs and budget. The flexible component connectivity supports both existing and new transport networks, which can help  providers maximize their return on existing investments and reduce new capital expenditures.

If you’re ready to capitalize on the skyrocketing mobile traffic growth, learn more about modernizing your network with a vRAN in our brief. Hear 451 Research cover its latest insights on Open RAN by registering for the "Cloudify Your Mobile Network —Transitioning to Open RAN for Established MNOs” webinar.