Research Notes

You ain’t seen nothing yet VIII – Three free reports on OpenRAN: Strand Consult creates the transparency that others are fighting against

Much of what is written about OpenRAN is sponsored content. There are  few who have the skills or the  will to ask critical questions about the proposition of network inputs which can reduce capex by as much as half.  Over the past 26 years, Strand Consult has critiqued hyped technologies. OpenRAN falls into a similar pattern of tech hype.

In December 2020, OpenRAN was marketed as an alternative to Chinese suppliers like Huawei and ZTE. However Strand Consult observed that the O-Ran Alliance had 44 Chinese members, some on the US Entity List. Strand Consult also observed that all O-Ran Alliance Working Groups had China Mobile as chairman or vice-chairman. The Federal Communications Commission denied China Mobile an operating license in USA.

While many articles celebrate OpenRAN, few can document its commercial success. Indeed the authoritative market research reports about OpenRAN suggest irrationally exuberant expectations about the future and are difficult to relate to actual 4G / 5G mobile wireless infrastructure around the world.

Three small operators are betting big on OpenRAN: Rakuten in Japan, Dish in the USA, and 1:1 in Germany. All three have major commercial challenges, but there has been limited reporting.

An operator like Rakuten does not have the same transparency as other mobile operators, though the japanese media Nikkei has a worthwhile article: Rakuten Mobile shutters 20% of stores in bid to reach profit goal

They could tell that Rakuten has for a long period of time primarily attracted customers by offering them more or less free mobile plans. Right now, Rakuten is experiencing a decline in the number of customers from 5 million to 4.5 million customers in a country with 200 million customers.

Rakuten’s ARPU has increased after moving away from offering people free traffic. Today Rakuten has an ARPU of 1,472 yen in a country where competitors have an ARPU of 4,080 yen (Docomo); 3,920 yen (KDDI) and 3,880 yen (SoftBank Corp.).

Looking at Rakuten from the outside, Rakuten is like a sushi restaurant which has hard time getting customers even with free sushi. It could be the subject of a serious report, however, most want to read about commercial successes..

Soon the Mobile World Congress will kick off and another hype cycle will be afoot. The big question is whether some of those who talk about OpenRAN dare to tell the proportion of the 5G sites in the world will be OpenRAN.

Over the past three years, Strand Consult has published three reports that look at OpenRAN from a number of different angles: If it is an alternative technology to classic 3GPP solutions, if it is a safe solution, OpenRAN has an opportunity to be a commercial success. The three reports are:

Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN

Many OpenRAN pronouncements sound too good to be true, for example a technology that can reduce mobile operators infrastructure CAPEX and OPEX by 30-40 percent. Investors and other decision makers want objective information about the latest mobile industry hype. Strand Consult’s free report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN” examines the claims made by OpenRAN proponents. Strand Consult, having witnessed the launch of WiMax, OneAPI, and the iPhone among other hyped technologies promised to bring windfall revenues to mobile operators, provides critical questions to evaluate OpenRAN in its latest report. Request the report.

The Moment of Truth: Is OpenRAN an alternative for emerging markets?

OpenRAN is frequently marketed as a means for operators to leapfrog mobile standards, connect the unconnected, and ensure a safe alternative to Chinese network equipment.

Strand Consult, an independent provider of research in the global telecom industry, investigates these propositions.  Its new free report “The Moment of Truth: Is OpenRAN an alternative for emerging markets?” reviews OpenRAN in emerging markets in the dimensions of economics, innovation, engineering, security, competition, and public policy.  It explores whether OpenRAN is a secure, viable alternative to the prevailing 3GPP infrastructure used by operators in emerging markets and more than 200 mobile operators in 5G networks in developed countries today. Request the report.

OpenRAN and Security: A Literature Review

Given the interest of mobile operators, investors, and other stakeholders to learn more about OpenRAN, Strand Consult is pleased to release a new report “OpenRAN and Security: A Literature Review”. While OpenRAN has received significant press and policy attention, there is relatively little scientific, empirical, and academic analysis of the topic. Strand Consult reviews the literature that does exist which includes academic papers by German and Taiwanese engineers, an official technical security review by European authorities, and some white papers and blogs by OpenRAN trade associations.

We at Strand Consult has nothing against OpenRAN. However we want to create the transparency at the O-RAN Alliance, and some of its members have pushed back. Indeed Strand Consult’s transparency concerns are shared by policymakers in the EU and US, notably the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Request the report.

These reports provide objectivity and transparency needed by decision makers, information which is not readily available in most mainstream outlets. For more than 25 years, Strand Consult has debunked the many myths of mobile industry hype. It has published a many research notes and reports on OpenRAN. See the library.

We at Strand Consult has nothing against Open RAN.  We live by delivering knowledge to telecommunications companies all over the world, our customers shop with us because they want access to knowledge from people who can and who dare to ask the critical questions.

After 26 years in the industry, our credibility is the greatest asset. Our customers do not judge us by what we say today but by what we said about the present in the past. Our customers, who are often executive boards and boards, want access to the knowledge that makes it easier for them to navigate in a complex world.

Order the three free OpenRAN reports today and learn more tomorrow.