Building the Open RAN Ecosystem

Here at Dell, we are open for collaboration in many ways.

Being open is a good thing. Open for business. Open to new ideas. Open about what your products can and can’t do. We want to work with people who are open because it often leads to new discoveries and more fruitful partnerships.

We’re committed to being open at Dell Technologies, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Open RAN domain. We believe Open RAN has the potential to revitalize the radio access network (RAN) with new solutions, new revenue opportunities and new cost efficiencies. And we’re making that a reality with new products developed by Dell Technologies and our vast ecosystem of RAN partners. This ecosystem will help drive down RAN costs, deliver higher performance and allow communication service providers (CSPs) to build best-of-breed systems that leverage legacy investments without being locked into any single vendor’s technology.

A great example of this openness and the ecosystem we are building is our progress on Layer 1 acceleration. In February 2022, we announced the Dell Open RAN Accelerator Card, an in-line Layer 1 accelerator card we developed in partnership with Marvell Technologies. In October 2022, we announced our collaboration with Fujitsu and the integration of Fujitsu radio units (RUs) with our accelerator card. At Mobile World Congress 2023, we announced new collaborations with RAN leaders, including:

    • Nokia for Layer 1 and vRAN integration
    • Qualcomm and NEC for Layer 1 and vRAN integration

The latest ecosystem of partners gives our communication service providers (CSPs) extensive choice and flexibility to put together the solution they require based on performance, power consumption and costs.

The Benefit of the Dell RAN Ecosystem

Some of you may be wondering why Dell has built our own Layer 1 accelerator card but, at the same time, is also working with other Layer 1 vendors. At Dell, we believe open networks are the future and that our customers must have the power to choose the best solution for their network. Everything we do follows this “open” mindset. This is why we built the Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab (OTEL) to bring in open technology from multiple vendors to enable customers to integrate and test solutions for deployment readiness. OTEL drives forward and enables open networks to advance innovation.

It’s no different in the RAN space. By its very nature, Open RAN is all about opening up interfaces and eliminating today’s closed RAN systems. However, opening up such interfaces has created integration challenges that must be overcome for Open RAN to gain traction globally. Other than a few major greenfield buildouts, Open RAN deployments have been lagging. Dell is helping accelerate adoption by collaborating with other RAN leaders to pre-certify RAN solutions, removing some of the challenges customers are experiencing.

This is What Choice and Flexibility Look Like

With our current RAN ecosystem of partners, CSPs can utilize the Dell Open RAN Accelerator Card with Fujitsu. If they don’t want this as their solution, they can look at one of our partner’s cards and choose the solution that best fits their needs. Each accelerator card has unique performance, power consumption and cost characteristics, so providing options gives CSPs much choice and flexibility. And if they prefer to follow the Intel FlexRAN approach, we have this covered as well with Intel’s latest vRAN Boost technology, which moves the Forward Error Correction (FEC) acceleration into the server CPU. So, Dell has you covered no matter which L1 accelerator solution you need.

Having access to a RAN ecosystem that includes industry leaders is a game-changer for CSPs, so we didn’t just open it to a select few partners. We opened it to everyone, including other vendors with competing technology. Today, CSPs can deploy an Open RAN solution in almost any configuration. This is the vision for Open RAN, and we are validating this vision with our extensive RAN ecosystem.

Open to What the Future Brings

One more benefit of being open: you’re open to whatever comes next. So, when the next generation of processors comes around, or the O-RAN Alliance updates its architectural recommendations, you can be confident that Dell’s Open RAN solutions will continue to support you. To learn more about Dell’s Open RAN solutions, visit us at Dell Open RAN.

Scott Heinlein

About the Author: Scott Heinlein

Scott Heinlein leads marketing for Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business Open RAN and Private Wireless solutions. He has been on the leading edge of technology for over 25 years with the unique experience of spending roughly half his professional career directly with communication service providers and the other half with equipment vendors. He has successfully launched and marketed various products and solutions to telecommunication market. He enjoys working on the latest advancements in technology. He graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Accounting and later earned an MS degree in Information Systems from the University of Texas.