What’s the best way to get to Open RAN?

Optimizing pooling gains can reduce TCO by up to 42%

There are multiple migration paths to Open RAN. Each operator has the flexibility to pick the path best suited to its needs and what is available and cost effective in its network. 

In this paper, we compare the TCO for two operator cases. In the first case, the operator has access to low-cost transport and may own a fiber network that reaches most of its macro cell sites. In the second case, the operator is in the opposite situation: it faces high transport costs and limited fiber availability at the macro cell sites. This is likely to change over the next few years, but the operator does not want to wait until then to deploy Open RAN. 

How should the adoption of Open RAN differ in the two cases? And what does this tell us about all the operators that find themselves in a midway situation?


  • In an Open RAN deployment, should the DUs be at the cell site or co-located in a remote data center with the DUs? It depends on transport costs, which unlock different sources of pooling gains.
  • Operators with low transport costs can reduce the TCO by 36% to 42% by locating the DUs in a centralized location with the CU.
  • Operators with high transport costs can reduce the TCO by 25% to 12% by moving the DUs to the cell site, and leaving the CU in a centralized location. 

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