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Secure, Synchronized, Low Power ORAN Deployment is Reshaping the 5G Paradigm

Secure, Synchronized, Low Power ORAN Deployment is Reshaping the 5G Paradigm
Posted 05/31/2022 by Mamta Gupta

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At two of the most important connectivity conferences in the world this year, Mobile World Congress 2022 and ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) Cyber Security Standards Conference, one topic was top-of-mind for everyone in attendance: open radio access networks, or ORAN. Projected to become a $22 billion market by 2028, this year is an inflection point for the industry, with outlets like Forbes citing 2022 as the decision-making year for ORAN capabilities in the marketplace as more companies adopt and make investment decisions on 5G. But what is ORAN and what value does this bring to the industry?

What is ORAN?

An Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) is a nonproprietary version of the Radio Access Network (RAN) system that allows interoperation between cellular network equipment provided by different vendors. The emergence of 5G technologies has given rise to the fervor around this capability. New open and disaggregated architectures, software, and hardware gives operators the flexibility to extend 5G to more users in a cost-effective, secure, and energy-efficient way and spurs innovation amongst the expanded set of vendors contributing solutions.

How ORAN Started

Previously, all network functions like firewalls, network slicing, and network creation were tightly coupled to proprietary hardware. Functionality on these integrated, end-to-end networks — anything from antennas to the baseband units — was limited to a few large network equipment providers. Telecom Service providers saw their costs rising and were worried about the rollout of new expansive technologies like 5G being stifled due to a slow pace of innovation or supply chain issues.

What was once a group of five like-minded service providers spearheading the ORAN movement, and the need to open up this new technology, has since grown into an entire ORAN community of more than 300 members across various consortiums and working groups. This community of mobile network operators, vendors, and research institutions — sponsored by the world’s leading communication service providers — is now leading the charge on the need to leverage the virtual network functions of ORAN as 5G connectivity becomes the de-facto global standard.

Evolution of the RAN

The Value of Open Networks

ORAN-based networks give telco companies and other service providers the ability to adapt more quickly, lower their costs, and implement new features and technologies easier and faster than ever.

  • More Innovation: The versatile ecosystem of an open network means operators simply have more options. They can add or create new services for network deployment that was once limited by the coupling of proprietary hardware and software. With an open network, they can use components off the shelf (COTS), low cost servers, and datacenter infrastructure to run virtual machines to implement the virtualized network functions.
  • Minimizes Vendor Lock-in: ORAN-based networks offer the flexibility of creating best-of-breed solutions by combining elements from multiple vendors. Users can now decouple software from hardware, which means hardware and software components can be mixed and matched from different vendors.
  • Lower Costs: COTS applications replace proprietary systems, and instead supplement and enhance a developer’s ability to buy bandwidth at a very competitive rate while not being locked into costly proprietary servers.

Effective 5G ORAN Deployment

However, moving away from a single-vendor solution increases the potential for security risks to critical infrastructure due to the increased attack surface as a result of many players contributing to the RAN. To avoid these issues, network equipment vendors and service providers need to think through what elements are necessary to ensure their networks and the data passing through them remain safe and secure.

The Lattice ORAN™ Solution Stack  can help customers deploy 5G ORAN solutions with robust security, high synchronization, and acceleration with low power. A Lattice solution stack is a turnkey solution that combines reference platforms and designs, demos, IP building blocks, FPGA design tools, boards, and custom design services to accelerate customer application development and time-to-market.

Lattice ORAN Solution Stack

  • Robust Security: The disaggregation and openness inherent in ORAN functionality requires securing the increased attack surface by implementing zero trust security. The Lattice ORAN stack offers ready-to-use software to enable the implementation of security requirements in the network to protect the communication between board components through encryption and authentication across channels.
  • Tight Synchronization: Lattice ORAN provides the flexibility to send a range of well-synchronized data across networks that aren’t limited to a fixed function. The disaggregation and the inherent openness in the ORAN architecture also heightens the need for synchronization, which is provided by protocols like eCPRI, TSN, and the ubiquitous IEEE 1588.
  • Acceleration with Low Power: 5G networks will carry an incredible amount of data, so users will need hardware acceleration with low power to be efficient across such powerful networks. Leveraging Lattice FPGA benefits, the ORAN solution stack offers up to 70 percent lower power and up to 100 times more resistance to soft errors in the smallest form factor, when compared to competing FPGAs of a similar class.

Enabling ORAN Development

The advent of 5G ushers in a new era of ORAN.

Accommodating IoT devices, significant bandwidth increases to meet the exponential growth of social media, streaming, and gaming services, and low latency support for delay-sensitive applications such as autonomous vehicle control and commercial drone applications requires a solid and open network foundation. Lattice is well positioned to support the ORAN movement with our strong portfolio of FPGAs along with well architected and easy to use application-specific solution stacks that enable a quick ramp for new and existing players in this ever-evolving ecosystem.

To learn more about how the Lattice ORAN Solution Stack is bringing control data security to 5G ORAN deployments, read TECHnalysis Research President Bob O’Donnell’s latest whitepaper here.

Learn how you can outpace market expectations with Lattice solutions by reaching out to us today!