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A key challenge facing cellular operators and other mobile telecommunications service providers in the near future will be the rising cost of the infrastructure needed to provide sufficient capacity for advanced mobile Internet services. Large numbers of base stations will need to be deployed, initially to provide coverage as next generation mobile technologies come on line, and then to increase the capacity to meet rising market demand.

The Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI) is an industry initiative comprised of leading base station vendors, module and component manufacturers. Between them they have created a complete set of open interface specifications related to key parts of the base station subsystem. By defining a basic modular architecture (not mandatory for use) and detailed specifications for the internal interfaces between modules, OBSAI aims to create an open market for cellular base stations.

An open market will substantially reduce the development effort and costs that have been traditionally associated with creating new base station product ranges. The availability of off-the-shelf base station modules will enable manufacturers to focus their development efforts on creating further added value within the base station, encouraging greater innovation and more cost-effective products. Furthermore, as product development cycles will be reduced, new base station functions will become available on the market more quickly.

Not only will operators benefit from greater competition among base station vendors, but they will also have the opportunity to bring new and advanced services to market earlier.

End-users will benefit too by having access to mobile services at the price levels they are prepared to pay and earlier than would otherwise be possible.