Together with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and Keysight Technologies, Pegatron Corporation demonstrated a 5G End-to-End Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) solution at Mobile World Congress 2021.
In the demonstration, two Pegatron 5G base stations, running as two Open-Centralized Units and two Open-Distributed Units, were launched on one commercial-off-the-shelf, x86-based server, with download and upload speeds respectively at 1.7Gbps and 400 Mbps.
ITRI has been the backbone of Taiwan’s industrial policy
Meanwhile, the ITRI service management and orchestration (SMO) platform was executed on another x86-based server. The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) demonstrated by ITRI at MWC 2021 was also Taiwan’s first 5G RIC that matched O-RAN standard.
In order to get into the global 5G supply chain, especially in the application of 5G dedicated networks, the Taiwanese government has been actively building an industry that focuses on 5G small cells and Open RAN architecture. ITRI, from which TSMC was spun off in 1987, has become a driving force in this endeavor.
In 2019, ITRI kick-started its project to build a 5G ecosystem, partnering with industry players across the 5G value chain, including MediaTek, Quanta Computer and Win Semiconductor Corp.
Last year, ITRI’s RAN Planning & Optimization Service, Athena SON, just won an award from the Small Cell Forum.
Will 5G replicate Taiwan’s success story in the cloud industry?
Following the success of Taiwan’s white-box server industry in which hyperscale cloud providers such as AWS directly engage with server manufacturers like Quanta Computer, skipping traditional intermediaries, Taiwan’s electronics manufacturing industry is now eager to replicate that pattern in the growing market for 5G dedicated networks, particularly small cells.
Thanks to the key role of mmWave in 5G deployment, 5G small cells have become a future growth market alongside end devices like 5G mobile phones. According to a SCF Market Status Report, a total of 38.3 million small cells will be deployed by 2026, with 68% of them to be enterprise small cells. Taiwanese manufacturers, according to ITRI, have already accounted for 30-40% of the 4G small cell market, and are estimated to capture at least 30% of the 5G small cell market.
O-RAN presents an opportunity
Most important of all, the rise of O-RAN architecture, enabled by the cloudization and virtualization of RAN, creates an unprecedented opportunity by introducing standardization and interoperability for white-box hardware from different vendors, breaking the long-standing monopolies of traditional telecommunications equipment makers such as Nokia and Ericsson. Empowered by this trend, hardware manufacturers can now utilize cloud computing and network function virtualization (NFV) to directly engage with telecommunications service providers.