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vRAN needs to prove itself, and that will be a five-year process

The initial excitement around Cloud-RAN, which bubbled up when China Mobile hurled its disruptive concept at the industry five years ago, has largely worn off. SK Telecom, Orange and T-Mobile all expressed scepticism about its advantages at the recent Mobile World Congress, at least in the short to medium term. Initially, operators were excited at the prospect of slashing the cost of ownership of new networks by sharing resources flexibly among cell sites and replacing proprietary, specialized hardware with white boxes running virtual network functions (VNFs). But of course, C-RAN proved far harder than most had hoped. For operators which saw it mainly as a way to slash operating expenditure, the costs of VNFs and white boxes remain unclear and…

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