3 min

EU believes Open RAN technology could have long-term benefits related to the continent’s cybersecurity, but there are also potential short-term risks.

European Union (EU) has reported that Open RAN technology can improve the cybersecurity of the continent. However, they also warned that there might be some short-term risks if this promise is fulfilled.

The business of Radio Access Network (RAN) has been long dominated by vendors, offering fully integrated cell sites comprising hardware, radio, and software. This strategy has made it highly critical for operators to incorporate and match innovation, resulting in a significant roadblock for small vendors to enter.

Open RAN adoption

Open RAN is a vendor-centered approach having standardized designs, allowing a range of firms from supply hardware to software. Operators anticipate it can advance innovation, minimize cost, and reduce the reliance on the ‘big three’ of Nokia, Huawei, and Ericsson.

Major prominent mobile operator groups in European such as; Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and TIM, are delighted by this technology, as many governments prefer to avoid over-dependency on a sole supplier.

Furthermore, the EU report also revealed that components having greater consistency would guarantee a great range of suppliers and permit the operators to achieve a versatile retailer strategy. In acquiring radio equipment from different suppliers, operators are separated against possible liabilities in one vendor’s equipment to help secure data and lessen the trouble to critical infrastructure.

In the meantime, the feature of standards and open interfaces in Open RAN can enhance automation and system visibility, reducing potential human error and bringing in potential roadblocks.

The EU’s report also said the concept of Open RAN hasn’t yet appropriately matured yet, and it’s a potential short-term risk. It further declared that the networks of increased complexity would lead to more attack surfaces for harmful actors and increase the chances of misconfiguration.

Further laid stress on the standards and specifications, which were not mature enough to be integrally protected by design.

The report declared that regulatory power could scrutinize massive deployments and estimate the suppliers’ risk, service providers, and integrators to reduce the risk. The information also wanted every potential hazard to be highlighted at an ideal level and for the Open RAN to be considered in any upcoming EU 5G cybersecurity structure.

The executive Vice-President of Europe Fit for the Digital Age said that;

“Our common priority and responsibility is to ensure the timely deployment of 5G networks in Europe, while ensuring they are secure.”

“Open RAN architectures create new opportunities in the marketplace, but this report shows they also raise important security challenges, especially in the short term. It will be important for all participants to dedicate sufficient time and attention to mitigate such challenges, so that the promises of Open RAN can be realized.”

As per Dell’Oro Group, by 2026, the Open Radio technology is expected to be responsible for the Radio Access Network (RAN) market by 15%. This adoption step has delighted analysts who think Open RAN won’t necessarily play any role in the disposition of 5G and future generations of 6G.

Earlier this year, Vodafone transitioned to Open RAN mobile site to execute live traffic of 5G customers in the UK. It also plans on deploying 2,700 sites in the South West and Wale of England by 2027. On the other hand, Telefónica is aiming for four markets with 800 sites by 2022, including BT and the UK, to test Open RAN in Hull