ETSI welcomes first O-RAN specifications as official standard

ETSI welcomes first O-RAN specifications as official standard


The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has issued its first standard covering open radio access networks, the open-source technology that many see as likely to reduce the cost of mobile telecoms.

The first document from ETSI (pictured), based in Sophia Antipolis in southern France, covers open fronthaul, one of interfaces in the architecture for open and intelligent radio access networks as defined by the O-RAN Alliance.

Dominique Everaere, chair of the ETSI mobile standards group technical committee, said: “The O-RAN specification has been approved as an ETSI specification after a thorough review and requested revisions by our experts.”

The O-RAN Alliance consists of 31 operator members, from Airtel to Vodafone, as well as dozens of suppliers and academic interests, promoting the idea of open standards for future radio access networks, to remove the industry’s dependence on a handful of vendors such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE.

“Recognition of O-RAN specifications by ETSI is another major step in enabling broad adoption of open RAN,” said Claire Chauvin, O-RAN Alliance board member and strategy architecture and standardization director at Orange.

“Having the O-RAN specification available as an ETSI specification adds further endorsement desired by commercial and public sector entities in a range of countries.”

Everaere added: “When specifications go through the ETSI PAS [publicly available specifications] process, they need to comply with the ETSI rules, and the ETSI committee in charge of these specifications works with the organization to ensure they align with existing procedures for approval as ETSI standards.”

ETSI, despite the “European” in its name, is seen as one of the leading global standards organisations covering the mobile telecoms industry. It is one of the key backers of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), where much of the hard technical work behind first 3G, then 4G and now 5G and 6G, has been done.

This week’s pioneering new standard, officially “O-RAN fronthaul control, user and synchronization plane specification v7.02”, specifies the control plane, user plane and synchronization plane protocols used over the fronthaul interface linking the O-RAN distributed unit and its radio unit. Its scope includes LTE – another ETSI trademark, meaning 4G – and 5G.

ETSI said that the O-RAN Alliance is preparing to submit more of its publicly available specifications to have additional parts of the O-RAN architecture recognised as ETSI specifications.