Opex is the operator’s main problem, Huawei executive said; RAN represents around 12% of capital expenditure per site
Of the three major global infrastructure providers, Huawei has been the least active in the formal development of technical specifications related to Open RAN and in the delivery of compliant products. The reason, according to Paul Scanlan, chief technology officer of Huawei, is that the company does not view disaggregated radio systems as a solution to pressing problems facing carrier customers.
At a recent virtual event hosted by Huawei for media and analysts, Scanlan released some figures related to capital and operating expenses by site, noting that about 30% of the site’s cost is fees. rental, 17% for transport, 12% or 13% is power. His point was that most of the costs associated with a radio site are operational; On the capital spending side, he said RAN spending was around 12%.
On Open RAN, “In my opinion, it’s not really going to go the way everyone would like… I think there’s a little too much hype. Everyone touts the cost, the cost, the cost, the capital expense, the capital expense. But the problem of a telecom operator is not the capex. It is in fact an operating cost.
Ask by Wireless CPR News about the evolution of Open RAN’s value proposition, moving away from simply reducing capital / operating expenses and delivering automated, cloud-based intelligence to the whole network based on hardware / software disaggregation, Scanlan said, “The jury is really out there. You have a lot of people pushing this component… The concept of a more generic type of hardware with software modules.
He continued, “We focused on the operator problem. Where do you see a deployment, test deployments, of Open RAN technology in rural areas. Why rural areas? We have to start somewhere I guess. If it’s not going to work very well, it’s a rural population.
While he’s right to say that some operators are focusing their Open RAN deployment and testing activities on rural areas, the Open RAN 4G / 5G cloud native network built in Japan by Rakuten Mobile would serve as a reasonable counterpoint to the argument that Open RAN systems are not ready for urban deployment.
Another issue with the overall trajectory of Open RAN, as Scanlan sees it, is that the associated technical work is performed through the operator-led O-RAN Alliance, not 3GPP. “My suggestion would be to put it in 3GPP,” he said. “What you get in 3GPP is some 200 countries working with even more vendors and contributors from academia and others to create a standard so you can have interoperability because that’s what you need. ”
Overall, Scanlan said, he’s not saying Open RAN “won’t happen. But I don’t know if… is it practically too late? “