Survey highlights growing O-RAN appetite

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A new survey highlights the growing appetite for O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) technologies.

Jabil commissioned SIS International Research to conduct this year’s 5G Technology Trends Survey. 193 stakeholders that are directly involved “in the development, implementation, or adoption of 5G technologies” at leading telecom companies took part.

O-RAN aims to break up the monopoly held by a handful of telecom vendors with open, interoperable equipment. The ability for smaller vendors to compete against the incumbants will increase competition, drive innovation, lower costs, and prevent vendor lock-in.

Most of the respondents (57%) feel that O-RAN will be ready for widespread deployment within the next two years. The majority (55%) report considering O-RAN for their deployment plans, while 22 percent say they already have a strategy in place.

The researchers also found that survey participants “across the board” agree with the view that O-RAN will reduce capital and operational expenditures.

Key 5G findings

Elsewhere, over half (59%) of the respondents believe 5G will open new opportunities for telecom firms.

Each mobile generation has benefitted from a “killer app”. 2G’s killer app was text messaging, 3G’s internet connectivity, and 4G’s was live video. Interestingly, just 42 percent of the survey’s respondents think a killer app is required to unlock 5G’s potential.

53 percent still believe that 5G will enable new business models. A whopping 93 percent expect it to foster deeper partnerships between service providers and software or web services companies.

Financial services is ranked as the sector that holds the most potential to be improved by 5G connectivity. Transportation, through connected vehicles and autonomous driving, came in second place. Healthcare rounds out the top three due to innovations in wearables and connected auto-injectors.

“Continued growth in 5G complexity and diversity creates a wealth of opportunities as well as obstacles for traditional telco service providers, equipment manufacturers and software developers,” said Emanuele Cavallaro, president, Communications & Networking division at Jabil.

“Our ability to collaborate with companies across the entire 5G ecosystem will push the boundaries of innovation to help 5G stakeholders reach their true potential.”

The main obstacle for 5G, cited by 31 percent of stakeholders, is the creation of subscription models. Other business-model challenges include government regulations (27%) and erosion of market share by over-the-top providers (25%).

In terms of operational challenges, network mapping (32%) and lack of 5G-enabled devices (31%) are still causing the most problems.

However, telecom stakeholders are still mostly bullish on 5G’s potential. 65 percent cite 5G as a superior technology that will “dramatically” transform telecommunications; an increase of 16 percent from Jabil’s 2018 poll.

(Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash)

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