We are facing a true paradigm shift and need more initiatives promoting open ecosystems – conclusions of Digital Catapult webinar on Open RAN

– Assuring interoperability and capability for integration of diverse, independent elements is the key to efficient deployment of 5G networks. Of course, questions about making these parts work together are valid, as this is a completely new approach. That is why initiatives such as SONIC Labs are tremendously important right now – argued Artur Chmielewski, Director of Business Development at IS-Wireless. 5G mobile networks experts unpacked the issues of deployment of Open RAN networks during one of the panel discussions of the “How Open RAN can drive 5G diversification” webinar hosted by the UK’s authority on advanced digital technology – Digital Catapult.

A revolution of more than just technology

Experts representing companies working in the field of open 5G networks gathered during the online panel discussion titled “Real world deployment of Open RAN” to discuss the opportunities granted by the open models of developing mobile networks and consider obstacles on the way. According to Artur Chemielewski, representing IS-Wireless, a provider of complete mobile network solutions in 4G and 5G, the power of open ecosystems of constructing mobile networks, which are gaining global recognition, lies in more than just the greater selection of solutions available and freedom of choice

The most important advantage granted by open ecosystems is the magnitude and richness of choices available. The diversity is the source of Open RAN’s true power. However, the variety does not only regard technologies at our disposal but also the advent of completely novel business models. Openness of the ecosystem allows us to run enterprises in entirely new ways – said Artur Chmielewski, Director of Business Development at IS-Wireless.

Open ecosystems are gaining recognition

Panel discussion speakers highlighted the importance of cooperation for growth of open mobile network ecosystems and approved of the growing recognition of open models by authorities

We are seeing more appreciation for open ecosystems in the industry, but also amongst the officials and regulators. The UK with its dedicated 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy developed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), looking to draw innovative companies to their market and answer to their supply demands is a great example of that trend. In fact, it is the great support from DCMS that allowed Digital Catapult and the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom join their forces to start the SONIC Labs programme aiming to diversify the global telecoms supply chain. As IS-Wireless we are honoured to be amongst the 5 companies picked to boost development of our Open RAN solutions in real-world indoor mobile network settings of SONIC Labs and exchange knowledge with other participants of the project. Cooperation and initiatives like that are the driver of real change towards open ecosystems – Artur Chmielewski comments.

Experts argued that Open RAN is still catching up in terms of share in the mobile networks market with traditional networks

Traditional approach to setting up networks still enjoys a greater deal of financial assets for driving development than open ecosystems do. Yet, Open RAN networks are being deployed more often in a growing number of countries – said Artur Chmielewski.

This regards the industry in particular, where private networks are becoming a staple of digital transformation. Businesses may learn a lot about power of industrial 5G and means of implementing it e.g. in the Digital Catapult’s “Toolkit for Business in a Digital Future”. In fact, IS-Wireless is mentioned in the document as one of the providers of 4G and 5G RAN for industrial applications – he shared in his comments following the panel discussion.

Paradigm shift

The changes taking place in the mobile industry due to moving towards open ecosystems were discussed by experts representing enterprises active in the field of interoperable solutions and the UK’s telecommunications regulator, involved in the SONIC Labs project. Panel speakers, apart from IS-Wireless’ representative included Simon Burley, Programme Director for Connectivity at Ofcom, Tom Bennett, CTO of Freshwave, as well as Gary Collins, General Manager and Head of Sales at NEC UK. The discussion was moderated by Linda Ligios, Senior Innovation Partner at Digital Catapult.

According to Artur Chmielewski – the paradigm shift seen in mobile networks bears resemblance to what has happened to personal computers years ago.

The openness revolution took place in the early computer industry too. Similar questions were posed regarding our ability to make independent pieces of hardware work together and software being deployed on platforms of different developers. Clearly, we stood up to this challenge and there is no doubt that this movement towards an open approach was the right choice. It is the right choice today in the case of mobile networks without a doubt. More vendors equals more ideas and more innovation – he adds.

The recording of the webinar can be watched here: youtube.com/watch?v=uVLRy5AFJcQ

IS-Wireless joined SONIC Labs earlier in July as one of 5 companies and will work on integrating its Open RAN solution in real-world indoor mobile network settings.

SONIC (SmartRAN Open Network Interoperability Centre) Labs is a two year programme from Digital Catapult and Ofcom, funded by DCMS, to allow new solution providers to enter the telecoms supply chain in the UK. It will drive forward the rollout of a new wireless communication technology known as Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), which enables mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.