Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s SVP of network technology strategy, architecture and planning, recently said the carrier would likely adopt open RAN equipment in its network this year and definitely by 2023, Light Reading reports. Koeppe made the statement at the 8th Annual Cowen Communications Infrastructure Summit, according to a summary of the event provided by the financial analyst firm.
The 2023 target is later than Koeppe’s initial O-RAN plans at the beginning of last year. At the time, he told Light Reading that Verizon’s 5G hardware operators, Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia, would begin to supply open RAN-compliant equipment starting later in 2021. Koeppe also said he expected the majority of their equipment shipments to Verizon would meet O-RAN specifications by 2022.
Verizon officials deny any delays, however, Light Reading reports.
“We’ve consistently said we’d begin to deploy compliant equipment in our network in 2022,” Verizon’s Kevin King told Light Reading. “No change there. And Adam confirmed last week that we’ll continue that process through 2023.”
Defining O-RAN could be part of the reason why Verizon’s timetable has shifted a bit. O-RAN is more of concept of a wireless network’s operation, rather than a firm technological standard. Further making O-RAN harder to define, its tech proponents are confident it can open the connection between the vendors’ baseband and radio products, according to Light Reading. If that’s true, operators would be able to uses various products from different vendors together. However, the technology does not really require operators to do so. With that in mind, it is possible that Verizon is looking at open specifications, which is on the road to O-RAN, but not looking to combine different vendors’ equipment just yet.
“Verizon certainly sees an open architecture opportunity in the RAN, specifically between the baseband and the radio (Company A can run the baseband, Company B can run the radio functions), for greater competition, though more standards work is needed on software development and interoperability is needed,” the Cowen analysts said based on their meeting with Koeppe.
AT&T is also moving toward O-RAN tech, Light Reading reports. Current Executive VP and CTO Andre Fuetsch recently said the carrier is running proof-of-concept tests for O-RAN technology. He said AT&T plans to first deploy O-RAN in small cells and private networking situations. A timetable was not revealed, however.
Dish Network also remains in the O-RAN arena. The company is currently building a nationwide 5G network with O-RAN, but it also signed a deal with Samsung along with agreements with smaller suppliers MTI and Fujitsu.