Prof. Kyunghan Lee, The key to 6G is ‘Open RAN’… U.S.’s strategy to turn the tables with SW (EDaily, 2020.09.17.)

2021-01-11l Hit 6

SNU ECE Professor Kyunghan Lee

“When hardware technology matures, the importance of software is emphasized as standardized hardware in the form of white boxes are introduced. Like how the biggest threat to Cisco is not other competing network equipment manufacturers but rather the selection of white box network switches, it is clear that Open-RAN (Radio Access Network) will have an impact on the mobile communications equipment market.”

SNU ECE Professor Kyunghan Lee stated that ‘Open-RAN’ will also pay a central role in the network technology for the transition from 5G to 6G.

By implementing mobile communications base stations with ‘open-RAN’ technology, you can break free from the reliance on network hardware and flexibly develop new technology. It is then easier for mobile carriers to adopt intelligent technology such as AI and makes it possible for them to use equipment from a mix of manufacturers.

Professor Lee predicted, “Much like how the wired network equipment market was restructured when the concepts of white boxes and SDN (Software Defined Network) emerged, Open-RAN will transform the next-generation mobile telecommunication device market.” Huawei, Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and other mobile communications base station equipment manufacturers then manufacture according to the standards, and software becomes the core technology in the competition.

“It is a natural trent if you look into the development process of computing devices, but open-RAN may be used as a way for the U.S., which is struggling in the mobile communications equipment market, to stay at the front in the field of information and communications.” He emphasized the importance of preparing for the possible rapid shift of the market to open-RAN through the American carrier AT&T.

“With open-LAN, every company’s equipment must be made interoperable. The advent of interoperable devices could lead to a decrease in the equipment profits.” This can be interpreted as a possible deflation of the symbolism of being number one in the mobile communications equipment market with 6G technology.

Korea has already joined in open-RAN… Should overcome lagging SW technology

Carriers started and led Open-RAN. AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Docomo, and Orange signed an O-RAN Alliance in August 2018, and SK Telecom, KT, Samsung Electronics, Nokia, and Ericsson are also taking part. In the U.S. and Japan, there is news of the imminent application of open-RAN technology, with DC Communications and Rakuten at the center.

In Korea, ETRI (Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute) and the 5G Forum this June suggested the launch of a 5G fronthaul working group and started the management of an open-RAN alliance with 23 companies participating.

Professor Lee commented, “Up to 5G, wireless access technology was crucial, but from 6G, the connection to service and high-quality is of greater importance. The interface between data transmission and data operation is important for the connection with service. That is why the core network and the computing technology with extremely short computational delay as well as the core network becomes crucial. As we move from 6G to 7G and 8G, the convergence of computing and communication becomes the main paradigm.” He noted that think over the significance of NVIDIA’s acquisition of Mellanox.

Regarding the 6G R&D strategy, Professor Lee said, “Compared to dedicated chipsets or dedicated hardware, open-LAN is lacking in terms of power consumption and performance.” He added, “Similar to how many apps are released on the app store, the impact of software on top of open-LAN will be great. We should take advantage of our strengths in the existing mobile communications market as well as additionally secure communications-computing convergence technology and open-LAN software technology with guarantee of the final service quality through early cooperation with domestic and overseas companies.”


Translated by: Jee Hyun Lee, English Editor of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,