Research Note

November 2022 fÿuz unfused: disconnect between open RAN, network disaggregation, and the metaverse

November 2022

Abstract

By Stéphane Téral, Stelyana Baleva

Stelyana and I are just back from Madrid where we truly enjoyed our participation in fÿuz, a global 3-day event powered by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), the O-RAN Alliance, and Meta. It was a blast! As it gathered more than 1,600 attendees, we send our kudos to the organizers for pulling off a fantastic colorful and professional big tech/telecom show punctuated with music sets spun by a live DJ, and profuse food options.

Each day had its own theme:

  • Day 1: Open RAN Summit
  • Day 2: TIP Summit with a focus on network disaggregation
  • Day 3: Metaverse Connectivity Summit

Our take is that although there is an undeniable great momentum for open RAN and telecom network disaggregation across the board, be patient for commercial rollouts as the business case for communications service providers (CSPs) to upgrade their network for the metaverse remains murky at best. In other words, what’s the connection between open RAN and network disaggregation, and the metaverse? On the one hand, the link between TIP and the O-RAN Alliance is clear. On the other hand, the folks designing the metaverse are looking for networks capable of delivering higher throughputs and lower latency through a mix of fiber optic cables and wireless options, including Wi-Fi and cellular technologies. Is there a need for open RAN and disaggregated networks for that? Your call. And what’s the role of 5G or 6G for this? Your call. One sure thing though: the need for high quality fiber to power the metaverse is undeniable.

However, Meta’s vision is a fusion of all ingredients together for a purpose. As explained during Day 1’s kickoff on the main stage, the origin of the event name fÿuz literally comes from “fuse” or the connection/combination of many ingredients produced by several initiatives such as network disaggregation led by TIP and open RAN led by the O-RAN Alliance to create better agile affordable telecom networks. What was not said is when TIP started in 2016, the mission was to connect the 1B unconnected people, which shifted to how to connect the first 1B customers to the metaverse after Facebook renamed itself in November 2021.

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