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How 5G ORAN is Changing the Telecommunications Market

How 5G ORAN is Changing the Telecommunications Market
Posted 07/12/2022 by Mamta Gupta, Director of Security & Comms Segment Marketing, Lattice Semiconductor

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5G is globally recognized as the technology standard for broadband networks, but what implications has the rapid adoption of 5G created in the global telecommunications market? With growing use-cases for 5G, Open RAN (ORAN) is now leveraged to enable faster innovation and greater flexibility. Spurred by the recent technological developments such as the virtualization of cellular networks and the advent of Software Defined Networks have proliferated the use of ORAN in 5G deployment, forever changing the way telecommunications companies build their networks.

What implications has the rapid adoption of 5G and ORAN created in the telecommunications market? We sat down with industry experts from TECHnalysis Research and Secure-IC to discuss this and several related questions during our recent LinkedIn Live panel discussion.

Below are some of the key takeaways from the discussion and further insights into various aspects of ORAN deployment for 5G infrastructures.

Understanding 5G ORAN’s Importance in the Telecommunications Industry

On the surface, the shift towards 5G in the mobile space is perceived as simply the next generation in network capability, providing better service with faster speeds. But dig deeper and you’ll find that 5G has had an immense impact on the industry, accelerating the evolution of network architecture. One of the biggest anticipated changes is telecommunication providers moving away from big vendors with closed systems. Instead, telecom companies have begun disaggregating the network, or breaking elements apart into separate pieces in order to enable the advanced capabilities of 5G like lower latencies and higher bandwidth. Additionally, cellular networks are being virtualized and software defined, so new mechanisms for enabling 5G capabilities and other new technologies are being created.

With the disaggregation of network elements, the Radio Access Network (RAN) at the heart of cellular networks is effectively becoming “open” with standardized interfaces – allowing companies the option to combine different components from various vendors while developing their networks and systems. This is a fundamental shift from how the telecommunications industry has previously operated. The days of closed-box systems with limited vendor choices are quickly being replaced by open, flexible systems with better functionality and wider base of equipment providers thanks to ORAN deployment.

ORAN solutions don’t just give carriers a larger ecosystem of vendors to choose from — they also invite companies to be more innovative with 5G technology. This helps to accelerate the speed of innovation even further, allowing the selection of the best solutions, and can reduce both capital and operational expenditures for companies. With so much new opportunity for innovation, more feature-rich solutions are being brought to market at a faster pace.

The Need for End-to-End Zero Trust Security, Flexible Fronthaul Synchronization, and Hardware Acceleration

As networks become more open and software-defined, the surface area of attack from hackers is also becoming much larger. A more open nature of the networks means that the “perimeter” in the network architecture is vanishing, and the “open” interfaces create more opportunities for bad actors to get in. Protecting networks from attacks on both the network and platform level is essential. Data protection both for the control and the users plane is very critical. Data that is communicated between two end-points must be protected at both end-points and during its transfer – which is what we call “securing the wire.” With carriers now interacting with third-party vendors in this new disaggregated environment, protection must come from both the software and hardware level.

Very tight timing controls across networks are also important, and telecommunication companies are primarily focused on reliability. Without high synchronization of timing controls, they risk poor performance and poor customer experience. Telecoms must also consider the amount of power new devices and capabilities consume. Advanced features often require more energy, making power budget an added concern when implementing the bandwidth intensive applications that are enabled by 5G. So, the need for hardware acceleration to implement complex functions and use cases across the networks is only growing.

To help our customers solve these problems, Lattice introduced the Lattice ORAN™ solution stack. Lattice ORAN enables secure and efficient 5G ORAN deployment by providing solutions for robust security (encryption, authentication, root-of-trust), flexible fronthaul synchronization (ORAN functional split options, IEEE 1588, eCPRI, TSN), and low power hardware acceleration for functions such as MACsec/IPsec, and small cell DFE. These are all needed as the wireless network converges to a new paradigm of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and disaggregation helps customers deploy secure 5G ORAN solutions at optimal performance.

Lattice ORAN Stack Image

Lattice has a robust portfolio of security devices with multiple levels of hardware security solutions including state of the art encryption, authentication, and Root of Trust (RoT). Lattice also has various software solutions that provide cyber resiliency and protect data based on Platform Firmware Resiliency (PFR) in applications such as servers in datacenters. Lattice’s cyber resiliency and PFR solutions are included in our Sentry™ solution stack and SupplyGuard™ service, and are very relevant to the ORAN implementation as the open fronthaul elements are virtualized in datacenter servers.

To learn more about the Lattice ORAN solution stack and how it enables 5G network security, visit the Lattice website. If you have questions about Lattice solutions, reach out to us today!