Carriers, vendors work to promote 5G-network flexibility with open standards

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The big wireless carriers and 5G equipment vendors are working together on standards to promote better interoperability among the gear needed to provide the high-speed wireless service.The ORAN (stands for open radio access networks) Alliance, founded in Germany in 2018, is working on open software interfaces between the different layers of the carrier-equipment stack to give providers more flexibility as they roll out 5G services that include support for IoT and ultra-low-latency applications. The group has more than 200 members ranging from carriers, to hardware and software vendors of all stripes.Current standards for carrier systems are highly vendor-specific, closed, and vertically integrated. This means that a company selling front-end base-station equipment also sells products that work well with its own link equipment, base-station controllers, and so on up the stack to the data center. Frequently such equipment is not designed to play well with equipment from other vendors, so a carrier that wants to use a different vendor’s gear at some part of the stack for cost or capability reasons might be locked into its primary vendor.ORAN is trying to change that by creating open standards at every level to enable multi-vendor networks and the use of white-box …

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