What’s Cooking In RAN: Explained Using A Food Analogy!

Radio Access Networks (RAN) are the backbone of mobile communication.

Celebrating Mediocrity
5 min readApr 21


Image generated from Playground.AI

Radio Access Networks (RAN) are the backbone of mobile communication.

They connect our devices to each other, allow us to use the internet, text, and call each other.

As highlighted in this excellent infographic by Adam Mackenzie, RAN costs eat up about a third of a CSP’s CAPEX budget. So whilst they are critical for mobile access, any potential improvements here would directly impact a CSP’s profitability over time.

As a result, and as avid Telco 101 readers, am sure you’ve seen plenty of “RAN” content all over LinkedIn. The aim of this article is to simplify the various existing and growing types of RAN using language that anybody can understand.

By the end of it, you’ll learn about the features and benefits of each type of RAN, how they improve end-user experience, and hopefully appreciate the incredible engineering happening behind the scenes that allows us to use our mobiles!

Traditional RAN

The grand-daddy of RAN. This is the classic version of RAN that consists of two parts: the base station (or cell site or tower if you will) and the various devices that connect to it.

The base station has antennas and other equipment that sends and receives signals to and from our mobile devices.

Once upon a time, this was the go-to architecture of every CSP. However, as the tech has improved and user demands have drastically changed, traditional RAN is gradually decreasing as newer RAN technologies have emerged and gained traction.

Centralized RAN (cRAN):

Imagine a food stall that only sells a single item.

This is similar to traditional RAN, where each base station is independent and responsible for managing its own resources.

cRAN is like having a food court in a centralized location that can serve any type of food to anyone anywhere, thanks to the internet.

In cRAN, the functions of multiple base stations are brought together and centralized in one location. This allows…



Celebrating Mediocrity

Talkative. Easy-goer. Globetrotter. Quixotic. Polemic. Mind-changer. Tea Drinker. Nerd.