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Current wireless systems provide several services with reliability and functionality not envisioned some decades ago. However, they use mostly OEM equipment that is hardly reconfigurable or portable between platforms/networks. This creates an obstacle to realizing true open wireless architecture (OWA) systems where the end-user is able to mix and match building blocks based cost, performance or either user-specific criteria. In this paper, we present a review of the technological trends driving the development of OWA and we discuss the state-of-the-art of enabling technologies currently available in both baseband and RF sides that can quicken the OWAs' development and widespread acceptance. We also propose a generic top-down design framework based on a hardware abstraction strategy for the design of OWA-compliant RF front-ends. This new framework aims to bridge the gap between the baseband and RF design environments.