Strand Consult: The 10 Parameters of Open RAN; AT&T memo to FCC

Strand Consult is attempting to determine if, when, and how Open RAN (TIP project) and O-RAN (Alliance) will replace conventional RAN on a 1:1 basis without compromising the network quality, security, energy efficiency, and other important factors. Mobile operators have little ability to raise price, so operators must compete on network quality, coverage, and other factors. Here are few things to keep in mind.

In general, mobile ARPU is falling. In many countries, operators are trying to shift the focus away from price by competing on innovation and quality. For example, US mobile operators compete on the quality and coverage of their 4G and 5G networks. Mobile operators are focused on rolling out technology quickly, maintaining customer satisfaction, and ensuring quality of experience and other key performance indicators (KPIs). Chief technology officers, network managers, and other technical staff are laser focused on these KPIs and are loath to make changes to which would negatively impact these indicators.

In general, Strand Consult observes that what public affairs officials say about OpenRAN differs significantly from what network managers say.

Strand Consult’s 10 parameters to evaluate OpenRAN:

Strand Consult’s investigation has been guided by 10 parameters or questions to determine the value of OpenRAN. Here is what we’ve learned.

  1. Whether OpenRAN is a technical standard. The O-RAN Alliance is a private organization that develops technical specifications for OpenRAN.  It should not be confused with the OpenRAN Policy Coalition which is a public affairs organization. The O-RAN Alliance is not a standards development organization (SDO), but rather an industrial collaboration that builds solutions on top of 3GPP specifications. While industrial cooperation is important, there can be no mobile networks the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an umbrella term for many standards organizations which develop protocols for mobile telecommunications and define the technological inputs for cellular networks. Companies like Rakuten develop their own corporate and proprietary concepts for OpenRAN. These concepts that do not necessarily follow a particular standard (3GPP) or O-RAN Alliance specification.
  2. Whether OpenRAN can replace Chinese equipment. Some mobile operators have suggested that OpenRAN is the way to avoid Huawei and ZTE in mobile networks. However other Chinese companies are deeply involved with OpenRAN technical specifications, product roadmap, and strategy. One founding member of the O-RAN Alliance is China Mobile, a state-owned company and the world’s largest mobile operator with 950 million subscribers and 450,000 employees. The O-RAN Alliance has more than 40 Chinese member companies, many of which government-owned and military aligned (See Strand Consult’s research note 44 Chinese companies have joined the OpenRAN effort, a strategy to reduce Huawei’s presence in 5G). The Chinese members of 0-RAN Alliance outnumber the Europeans. China Mobile’s Chih-Lin has veto power over the organization. China Mobile leads or co lead 8 of the 9 O-RAN Alliance’s working groups either as chairman or vice-chairman.
  3. OpenRAN and 5G innovation. OpenRAN proponents claim it will have a revolutionary impact on 5G, however reports suggest that large scale deployment of OpenRAN won’t happen until 2025. This means that OpenRAN cannot replace existing RAN on a 1:1 basis today.  The 5G networks rolled out today use the standards from 3GPP Release 15 with increased functionality forthcoming in Releases 16 and 17 within two years. There are more than 144 3GPP-5G commercial networks deployed but only one proprietary OpenRAN 5G network (Rakuten). If OpenRAN is to increase 5G innovation, it must evolve faster than 5G itself. Presently it is not on par with the 5G standards defined years ago. It is difficult to see how OpenRAN can catch up when the significant resources already supporting the 3GPP standards timeline.
  4. OpenRAN and 5G deployment. Today mobile operators are rolling out 5G at a faster than 4G and even fast than 3G. In practical terms, 5G networks already built in 2019 and 2020 and those to be built in 2021 and 2022 already have the standards roadmap in place. If OpenRAN can’t catch up by 2025, operators have only two choices, delay 5G until 2025 (when 6G will start to take root) or replace their 5G equipment in 4 to 5 years. OpenRAN may be too little, too late for 5G operators.
  5. OpenRAN and vendor diversity. OpenRAN proponents claim that it will create more competition in the network equipment market. The 5G network equipment vendor market has many vendors and segments. Omdia details more than a dozen full-service providers with additional providers in segments for antennas, basebands, remote radios, small cells, macro cells, phase shifters and so on. This idea that there are not many vendors for 5G equipment was likely created by Huawei to deter the security reviews and subsequent restrictions imposed on the military-aligned company. If anything, the restrictions on Huawei have helped to open the door to new equipment vendors which could not compete because of Huawei’s predatory pricing and anti-competitive tactics. For example, Samsung has quickly gained market share and is supply 5G rollouts in the US, Australia, and other countries.
  6. OpenRAN and network equipment cost. OpenRAN proponents suggest that it can lower the cost of network equipment. The cost competitiveness of OpenRAN versus RAN is not yet known. It may be that some OpenRAN providers can offer equipment more cheaply on some parameters, but the cost advantage may not be significant when considering all the costs such as supply, availability, energy consumption, security, warranty, network integration, equipment matching, new contracts and service level agreements etc. However, operators frequently reduce their number of vendors so that they can enjoy lower unit costs with volume purchasing, the company BUYIN is a great case. For an operator’s perspective, check out the comments from Neil McRae, Managing Director and Chief Architect at BT (Scroll to minute 51 minute in the video). McRae explains that when he took his job, he inherited a network portfolio with 50 vendors. He subsequently reduced it to 4 vendors and saved £1 billion in 3 years. He observed that too many vendors not only increased cost, it increased complexity. He is wary of notions of “open architectures” which require managing portfolios of 5-50 vendors. He noted that vendor reduction increased shareholder value and that he would pursue the same strategy again.
  7. OpenRAN and security. OpenRAN proponents suggest that OpenRAN technology and the “unbundling” of 5G hardware and software is the means reduce reliance on Huawei and hence greater security. However, it is not clear how trading one known insecure Chinese vendor for 50 unknown Chinese vendors is the path to greater security. The issue of backdoors is omnipresent on all Chinese hardware given the country’s disposition and associated intelligence and surveillance policies. Moreover, it is not clear how security is improved when network owners must vet not one, but multiple new OpenRAN vendors. The time and cost to perform this review would seem to be multiplied by the number of vendors the operators takes on.
  8. OpenRAN and energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is an increasingly important issue for mobile operators which expect to compete on carbon reduction strategies. Naturally if OpenRAN could offer a greener solution, that would be an advantage.  However, it is reported that many OpenRAN installation use the Intel X86 processor, which is less efficient than specialized RAN chips.  If anything, energy consumption could increase if signals must traverse a multitude of mix and match components instead of a single end-to-end system designed with energy efficiency in mind.  To reduce energy, Apple developed tits own processer as an alternative to Intel X86.
  9. OpenRAN and Rakuten. The media has promoted a supposed Rakuten success story with OpenRAN success. However, Rakuten is not offering open-source tools, but rather proprietary OpenRAN solution. It offers this through a freemium model in which free service is offered for a period, and operators pay down the line. Some companies have success with freemium and loss leader models, but typically they need scale.
  10. OpenRAN and the indigenous movement. OpenRAN has been promoted as a way to support domestic innovation like India or Brazil or what Germany’s Economic Minister calls for European-only actors in 5G. Curiously many of these calls are coupled with operator strategies to keep Huawei equipment in place because OpenRAN will not be ready for some years. Policymakers have also pursued subsidies and other financial incentives to support local OpenRAN startups which may design the equipment in their respective country but manufacture it in China. Unfortunately, production in China and with Chinese partners could compromise security, as the Supermicro case demonstrates.

Conclusion

The many problems that OpenRAN is purported to solve is impressive. In fact, I have to go back to 3G in 2000 to find the level of hype observed today with OpenRAN. Indeed, the Huawei problem is so serious that people are desperate for a solution. However, in the enthusiasm for the OpenRAN solution, too many want to look past  the inconvenient reality that China is shaping much of the Open RAN future particularly through the O-RAN Alliance.

It is important to develop secure alternatives to Huawei, but this is not a reason to oversell OpenRAN. While it may be commendable to pursue the goals proffered by OpenRAN proponents, the actual impact of OpenRAN must be measured by real world facts and experience.

The questions remain how OpenRAN will affect the CAPEX and OPEX mobile operators in the short, medium and long term and whether operators will buy OpenRAN as a serious 1:1 alternative to standard RAN in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, New York, Sao Paulo and Copenhagen. It seems that OpenRAN is falling short of expectations.

Fact vs Fiction: The 10 Parameters of OpenRAN

Separately, AT&T told the FCC it plans to begin adding open RAN-compliant equipment into its network “within the next year.”

That puts AT&T on roughly the same timeframe as Verizon. Verizon’s SVP Adam Koeppe told Light Reading earlier this year that the operator’s 5G hardware vendors – Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia – will begin supplying open RAN-compliant equipment starting later this year. And he expects that the bulk of their equipment shipments to Verizon will comply with open RAN specifications by next year.  AT&T told the FCC it expects to implement similar changes into its own network.

“The challenge for an operator shifting to any open network architecture, including but not limited to O-RAN, will be maintaining network reliability, integrity and performance for customers during the transition,” the operator wrote in a filing. “For our part, AT&T serves multiple customer groups, with varied and often complex, service requirements. As we introduce O-RAN into our network, our goal will be maintaining the same high level of performance at scale. We are actively working in this direction.”

References:

https://www.lightreading.com/open-ran/atandt-to-launch-open-ran-by-next-year/d/d-id/769199?

AT&T to FCC: Promoting the Deployment of 5G Open Radio ) Access Networks – GN Docket No. 21-63
https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/1042871504579/AT%26T%20Comments%20to%20FCC%20NOI%20(04.28.21).pdf

Mavenir and Xilinx Collaborate on Massive MIMO for Open RAN

Mavenir, an upstart end-to-end cloud-native network software provider and Xilinx, a leader in adaptive computing, announced today the companies are collaborating to bring to market a unified 4G/5G O-RAN massive MIMO (mMIMO) portfolio to enable Open RAN deployments. The first mMIMO 64TRX joint solution is expected to be available in Q4 2021.

Working together, the two companies have successfully completed end-to-end integration of a first-generation mMIMO solution using Open RAN principles. Held at the Mavenir Lab in Bangalore, India, the integration covered multiple deployment scenarios and was evaluated by six CSPs, all leading global operators. Mavenir delivered the Virtualized RAN (vRAN) support for mMIMO, including Core Network, CU and DU, with Xilinx providing the Category B O-RAN Radio Unit.

“This integration demonstrates an efficient Open RAN massive MIMO solution to achieve diversification of the telecommunications supply chain,” says Pardeep Kohli, President and CEO, Mavenir. “This is an important milestone in the delivery of open and interoperable interfaces enabling the deployment of mMIMO in high density, high mobile traffic metro areas.”

“We were early proponents of Open RAN technology along with Mavenir and actively led in standards development in the industry through many field trials around the world,” said Liam Madden, executive vice president and general manager, Wired and Wireless Group at Xilinx. “With the investment we have done on our market-leading wireless radio technology and massive MIMO R&D, we are excited to collaborate with Mavenir to bring our collective technology and radio system expertise together that will accelerate the deployment of market leading 5G O-RAN massive MIMO radio solutions.”

With history of leadership success in various 4G and 5G network deployments worldwide, the companies are jointly developing the next generation of mMIMO products which will bring the world’s first O-RAN compliant 64TRX mMIMO products that support up to 400MHz instantaneous bandwidth in a compact form factor. Mavenir’s vRAN software supports Multi-User MIMO with up to 16 layers, advanced receiver algorithms, full digital beamforming – all running on Mavenir’s open and flexible cloud-native platform, as well as on other cloud platforms.

These products will leverage Xilinx’s technology platform including RFSoC DFE and Versal AI for advanced beamforming, delivering a fully integrated hardware and software O-RAN compliant mMIMO solution.

The wireless industry’s focus is squarely set on massive MIMO as mid-band spectrum 5G deployments continue, particularly following the record high mid-band 5G spectrum auction that concluded in the U.S. earlier this year. Massive MIMO is especially important in mid-band 5G networks because it allows operators to densify network coverage, increase capacity and coverage, and reduce the need for incremental outdoor sites, all of which translates to less labor and lower costs.

Mavenir and Xilinx have not yet disclosed the specifications for the equipment, but claim the equipment at the top of the portfolio will feature a 64-antenna array for transmitting and receiving signals and support up to 400 megahertz of bandwidth. The initial supply of radios will support C-band spectrum in the U.S., and the companies plan to later support mid-band spectrum for 5G deployments in Europe, the Middle East, and India.

The vendors are coming together to prove that “open RAN massive MIMO radios are a reality, and we will deliver that to the market. Our first open RAN massive MIMO radio will be labs ready by early Q4 and field-trial ready by the end of the year,” said Gilles Garcia, a senior director at Xilinx.

“5G Open RAN has significant momentum in the market with ABI Research forecasting network vendor spending to reach $10 billion by 2026-27 and then surpass traditional RAN at $30 billion by 2030,” said Dimitris Mavrakis, senior research director of 5G at ABI Research. “As Mavenir and Xilinx continue to work together to accelerate O-RAN-based massive MIMO adoption, their solutions will be well-timed to serve this high-growth market with the higher spectral efficiency, performance, power efficiency and cost needed as 5G demand intensifies.”

NTT DOCOMO selects Samsung for 5G and O-RAN network solutions

Samsung Electronics announced on Monday that it has been selected as a 5G network solutions provider for NTT DOCOMO, the leading mobile operator in Japan with 82 million customers.  Samsung will support DOCOMO (now wholly owned by NTT Corp.) with its innovative 5G technology, including O-RAN-compliant solutions, to bring enriched 5G services to users, advance digital transformation for businesses, and improve society at large.

As part of its ongoing strategy to deliver an advanced network and provide customers an array of enhanced mobile services, DOCOMO leverages leading edge-technologies in its 5G network.

“As a leading mobile operator, our goal is to provide our customers the best possible services for creating innovative, fun and exciting experiences and finding solutions to social issues,” said Sadayuki Abeta, General Manager of the Radio Access Network Development Department at NTT DOCOMO. “We are excited to collaborate with Samsung for the next phase of 5G Open RAN and accelerate the expansion of our ‘Lightning Speed 5G’ coverage in the nation.”

“We are pleased to be part of DOCOMO’s 5G networks and look forward to continued collaboration in advancing 5G innovation for their customers,” said Satoshi Iwao, Vice President and Head of Network Division at Samsung Electronics Japan. “Our goal is to leverage Samsung’s technical leadership to bring the best network solutions to mobile operators around the world, so they can deliver the next generation of transformative 5G services and electrifying user experiences.”

“The agreement between NTT DOCOMO and Samsung is significant,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro. “NTT DOCOMO has a history of being at the forefront with new and innovative technologies and this announcement cements Samsung’s position as a major 5G RAN supplier.”

Samsung says they have pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions including chipsets, radios, and core. Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio from fully virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.

This is the latest in a series of recent contract awarded to Samsung.  The company scored its biggest win when it received a $6.6 billion 5G contract from Verizon, replacing Nokia. It got a contract from Canada’s SaskTel earlier this month and is also in talks with European telecom operators to gain a foothold on the continent.

It is supplying 5G RAN to New Zealand’s Spark and last week announced it will be the sole 4G/5G core and RAN supplier to Sasktel.  Samsung also supplies 5G RAN and core equipment to SK Telecom and KT in its home market.

NTT DoCoMo already has a broad slate of 5G vendors. Fujitsu supplies RAN equipment, NEC core and edge, Nokia baseband and Ericsson (a major supplier to rival KDDI) supplies RAN optimization. Six weeks after DoCoMo, a founding member of the O-RAN Alliance, unveiled its “5G Open RAN Ecosystem” aimed at “accelerating open RAN introduction to operators” worldwide. Members include NEC, Fujitsu, Mavenir, Intel and Qualcomm which are DoCoMo’s own team of preferred open RAN solution vendors.

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References:

https://news.samsung.com/global/samsung-collaborates-with-ntt-docomo-on-5g

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/samsung-networks-lands-docomo-for-5g-open-ran/d/d-id/768255?

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/03/15/huawei-or-samsung-leader-in-5g-declared-standard-essential-patents-seps/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/11/10/wsj-samsung-not-ericsson-or-nokia-best-alternative-to-huawei-for-5g-network-equipment/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/03/18/ibm-samsung-electronics-and-m1-unveil-singapores-1st-5g-industry-4-0-studio/

TIP OpenRAN project: New 5G Private Networks and ROMA subgroups

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP), one of several industry consortiums creating specifications for open radio access networks (Open RAN), recently announced a new 5G Private Networks subgroup.

Editor’s Note:

We don’t know whether the TIP OpenRAN project or the O-RAN Alliance has (and will have) more industry influence and impact. In addition, there are many splinter partnerships forming; many of them led by Rakuten Mobile.  What’s mind boggling is that none of the groups have liaison agreements with either ITU-R WP5D (responsible for all IMT standards, including 4G and 5G) or 3GPP (the prime spec writing organization for mobile networks).

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5G Private Networks contribute to improve the quality of experience for 5G connectivity, including better coverage and capacity through on-premise radio equipment, the ability to support low latency and high bandwidth service requirements through edge compute & routing of private traffic, and the potential to support the increasing demand for privacy and localized data analytics.

For network operators, 5G Private Networks also create the opportunity to implement new network management and operational models, enabling full automation of the operation of the enterprise network while improving end customer application experience.

However, to fully capture the benefits of 5G Private Networks, a different approach is required, because traditional network architectures, focused on large scale deployments and operations don’t have the right economics or the operational flexibility to efficiently deliver on the emerging needs of enterprise customers.

The 5G Private Networks Solution Group will develop a new approach to manage and operate 5G Private Networks, based on a cloud-native architecture, and making use of a new class of software management tools, based on the paradigms currently used for the cloud, but adapted to deliver the requirements of a telecom network environment. Telefónica will test the solution in their local TIP Community Lab in Madrid and then move to field trials in Málaga (Spain).

Juan Carlos Garcia, SVP Technology Innovation & Ecosystem, Telefónica, and TIP Board Director said: “This new solution group will enable operators to address the exciting opportunities that 5G is creating in the enterprise segment, both through valuable features for our customers and more efficient network operations. The TIP community is the perfect environment for this innovation, as it will allow us to leverage multiple current project groups (Open Core Networks, OpenRAN) to deliver an end-to-end Minimum Viable Product that we will then test in Telefonica’s TIP Community Lab.”

In particular, the new Solutions Group will leverage previous work contributed to TIP’s OpenRAN Project Group, on a first version of a CI/CD platform that applies traditional IT methodologies to automate integration, testing and deployment of OpenRAN software.

Ihab Tarazi, CTO and SVP, Networking and Solutions, Dell Technologies and TIP Board Director, said: “For open networks to deliver their benefits, the telecom industry needs an abstraction layer that helps integrate different components into end-to-end solutions. New software management tools based on the ones currently used for the cloud can address this need, and this Solution Group is a timely initiative for the industry to collaborate on making this happen.”

Caroline Chan, VP and GM Network Business Incubation Division, Intel and TIP Board Director, said: “Through the recently launched solution groups, TIP is expanding its scope to include the validation of interoperability between different elements across the whole network, and insights and recommendations about how to operate them. The new 5G Private Networks Solution Group is a strong example of this approach. With dedicated local private high-performance network connectivity as a key emerging deployment model for 5G and edge buildout, this group can help foster important ecosystem collaboration.”

As a result, this new solution group will help drive:

  • Improved network economics, through the use of commoditized hardware and open source software, and more efficient and flexible network operations and automation, enabled by the adoption of cloud-native technologies.
  • Dedicated local high-performance 5G connectivity and edge computing infrastructure, appealing to multiple B2B & B2B2C verticals.
  • Better network security and performance.

Telefónica is one of the five European telcos that announced that they will work together on open RANs for mobile networks. The others are Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TIM and Vodafone. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for that grouping commits the five to the O-RAN Alliance, which has 27 network operator members from AT&T to Vodafone, and to “other industry initiatives, such as the Telecom Infra Project, that contribute to the development of open RAN and that aim to create a healthy and competitive open RAN ecosystem and advance R&D efforts.”

 

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Separately, the charter of the new OpenRAN Orchestration and Management Automation (ROMA) subgroup was approved by the OpenRAN PG.    ROMA focuses on aggregating and harmonizing mobile network operators requirements on Open RAN orchestration and lifecycle management automation, fostering ecosystem partners to develop products and solutions that meet ROMA requirements.

The goal of ROMA is to:

·       Develop a common set of use cases for OpenRAN lifecycle management automation and orchestration that are agreed across multiple MNO and OpenRAN ecosystem members

·       Develop Technical Requirements on products and solutions that support the identified use cases, including interfaces and data models

·       Facilitate product and solution development through lab testing, field trials, participating TIP Plugfest and badging on TIP exchange etc.

·       Support large scale OpenRAN deployment with lifecycle management automation, including Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) frameworks and tool sets.

It will bring better coverage and capacity through on-premise radio equipment, says TIP, and the ability to support low latency and high bandwidth service requirements through edge compute and routing of private traffic, and the potential to support the increasing demand for privacy and localized data analytics.

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About the Telecom Infra Project:
The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a global community of companies and organizations that are driving infrastructure solutions to advance global connectivity. Half of the world’s population is still not connected to the internet, and for those who are, connectivity is often insufficient. This limits access to the multitude of consumer and commercial benefits provided by the internet, thereby impacting GDP growth globally. However, a lack of flexibility in the current solutions – exacerbated by a limited choice in technology providers – makes it challenging for operators to efficiently build and upgrade networks.

Founded in 2016, TIP is a community of diverse participants that includes hundreds of companies – from service providers and technology partners, to systems integrators and other connectivity stakeholders. We are working together to develop, test and deploy open, disaggregated, and standards-based solutions that deliver the high-quality connectivity that the world needs – now and in the decades to come.

Find out more: www.telecominfraproject.com

References:

Learn more and join the new 5G Private Networks Solution Group here.

https://telecominfraproject.com/tip-launches-5g-private-networks-solution-group/

 

Analysis: Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, DT commit to Open RAN

Four of Europe’s biggest network operators have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to express their individual commitment to the implementation and deployment of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) as the technology of choice for future mobile networks across Europe. In a statement, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Vodafone pledged to back Open RAN systems that take advantage of new open virtualized architectures, software and hardware with a view to enhancing the flexibility, efficiency and security of European networks in the 5G era.

The four operators committed to working together with existing and new ecosystem partners, industry bodies like the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), as well as European policy makers, to ensure Open RAN quickly reaches competitive parity with traditional RAN solutions. “This initiative is an important milestone towards a diverse, reinvigorated supplier ecosystem and the availability of carrier-grade Open RAN technology for a timely commercial deployment in Europe,” they said in a joint statement.

The MNOs added that the introduction of Open RAN, virtualisation and automation would pave the way for a fundamental change in the way operators manage networks and deliver services, allowing them to add or shift capacity more quickly for end users, automatically resolve network incidents or provide enterprise level services on-demand for industry 4.0.

The four operators also expressed the hope that the European Commission and national governments will agree to play an important role in fostering and developing the Open RAN ecosystem by funding early deployments, research and development, open test lab facilities as well as incentivising supply chain diversity by lowering barriers to entry for small suppliers and startups.

The MoU comes a few days after Telefonica announced plans to use open RAN technology at around 1,000 of its mobile sites in Germany. Vodafone made a similar commitment at around 2,600 of its masts and rooftops in the UK at the end of last year.

Without orders from numerous large operators, open RAN producers have struggled to increase volumes and generate the necessary economies of scale.

“This is like putting the band back together,” says Gabriel Brown, a principal analyst with Heavy Reading, a sister company to Light Reading. “The European operators are saying if we co-operate then we can have a meaningful influence and impact on the way open RAN develops.”

Operators are drawn to open RAN because it would allow them to mix and match vendors, using radio software from one vendor in tandem with general-purpose equipment developed by another. Traditional radio access networks typically force operators to buy all their components from the same supplier.

While today’s statement is light on details of firm commitments, Vodafone has already promised to use open RAN technology at around 2,600 of its mobile sites in the UK, while Telefónica this week said it would do the same at roughly 1,000 sites in Germany.

Deutsche Telekom, Germany’s telecom incumbent, has had less to say about rollout targets, although in December it revealed plans to build an “O-RAN town” in Neubrandenburg this year. “This will be a small-scale commercial deployment, which will encompass up to 150 cells, and will bring open RAN into a real 4G/5G network environment,” said a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson by email.

That leaves France’s Orange, which has now made a jaw-dropping commitment: Starting in 2025, it will buy only open RAN equipment when upgrading its European networks.

“From 2025, our intention is that all new equipment deployed by Orange in Europe should be based on open RAN,” says Arnaud Vamparys, Orange’s senior vice president of radio networks. “This is a good time to send a clear message.”

His expectation is that over this timeframe open RAN will reach “parity” with traditional RAN for deployment in a macro network. That would mean resolving some of the performance shortcomings that have mainly restricted open RAN to rural and less demanding conditions.

“2025 sounds about right,” says Brown. “The integrated systems are really setting a very high bar and open RAN is behind on features and performance right now.”

Brown told Light Reading he was encouraged by some of the recent open RAN activity in the semiconductor industry, citing baseband advances by Marvell and radio innovation by Xilinx.  But he says it is too early to say open RAN will definitely be a mainstream success by the mid-2020s. “Can this be the best way to build a radio access network? If it isn’t, it is probably not going to succeed.”

“We continue to work to unlock the value of these European programs because clearly there are industry-leading initiatives of some of the manufacturing being brought back to Europe, especially on open RAN,” said Markus Haas, Telefónica Deutschland’s CEO, when asked during an analyst call this week if the telecom sector could be a beneficiary of Europe’s COVID-19 recovery fund.

“There is high interest so that the overall industry, the vendor landscape, might change or might be empowered by additional funds in order to progress and accelerate open RAN.”

While Ericsson and Nokia say they are now investing in open RAN technology, Vodafone looks determined to use alternative players for its 2,600-site rollout. Supplier diversification has topped the agenda for other service providers, as well.

“We want Europe to play a role in that evolution and it has to unite a bit to achieve this goal,” says Orange’s Vamparys. “There are lots of US and Japanese companies pushing strongly for the acceleration of open RAN. If we don’t communicate and help other companies, it could create an unbalanced situation.”

O-RAN Architecture 190122.png

                                                             SOURCE: ORAN Alliance


Telefónica Deutschland named Altiostar, KMW, NEC and Supermicro as potential open RAN partners in a presentation it gave this week, while Deutsche Telekom has been in talks with Dell, Fujitsu, Mavenir, Nokia and NEC.

Vodafone has already carried out open RAN trials with Mavenir and Parallel Wireless.

The region’s biggest gap is probably in silicon, says Heavy Reading’s Brown. Most of the high-profile chipmakers developing open RAN technology, including Marvell and Xilinx, are based in the US.

Arm, a UK-based firm whose processor designs are used in many of the world’s smartphones, is a member of the O-RAN Alliance, the group responsible for open RAN specifications. But it is also currently the target of a $40 billion takeover move by Nvidia, a US semiconductor maker.

In the meantime, any plan to use part of the European recovery fund to support open RAN could meet with political resistance given the healthy state of the telecom sector compared with other industries, including airlines, hospitality, retail and tourism.

John Strand, the CEO of advisory firm Strand Consult, lashed out at the suggestion that open RAN could benefit from Europe’s COVID-19 stimulus package.

“Do these companies need subsidies? Is Telefónica in such a bad position that it needs public funding?” he told Light Reading. “We are living in a time when numbers of companies are in deep financial crisis because of COVID-19 and telecom operators, which definitely haven’t been hit, are asking for subsidies.”

Market forecasters now think open RAN will account for about one tenth of the overall market for radio access network products by the mid-2020s:

  • Omdia expects industry revenues to increase from just $70 million in 2019 to about $3.2 billion in 2024, giving it a 9.4% share of the 4G and 5G market.
  • Dell’Oro, another analyst firm, is in broad agreement: Last year, it predicted operators would spend somewhere north of $3 billion on open RAN products in 2024.

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References:

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/telefonica-vodafone-orange-dt-sign-open-ran-mou–1369273

https://www.lightreading.com/open-ran/europes-telco-giants-come-together-over-open-ran/d/d-id/766763?

Progress in 5G private networks and Open RAN

Omdia and Dell’Oro Group increase Open RAN forecasts

 

Viavi Solutions and Mavenir collaborate to validate new SD, cloud-native RAN infrastructure

VIAVI Solutions Inc  today announced that Mavenir, an upstart provider of end-to-end cloud-native network software for mobile operators, is collaborating with VIAVI for lab validation of radio access solutions in the U.S. VIAVI’s lab test platform, in use by almost every base station manufacturer in the world, provides scalable test systems for validating network performance as experienced by end users, across multiple cells and different radio access technologies.

The year 2020 marked a significant inflection point for mobile networks around the globe. With 229 million subscribers as of December 2020, 5G became the fastest growing mobile technology in history. New MNOs (like Dish Network) were granted licenses to establish greenfield networks to take advantage of this demand. Meanwhile, #1 base station maker Huawei was restricted from supplying infrastructure in markets around the globe. These trends have driven an expansion of the supply chain for mobile network solutions.

VIAVI tools are able to measure the complete performance of the network over multiple interfaces including O-RAN and RF through to the packet core. Capable of emulating one to many thousands of UEs, the platforms create a sophisticated and precise test environment, including comprehensive feature interactions, simulated RF and mobility, accurate replications of real-world user behavior profiles, together with mobility across the radio access network.

What is 5G Infrastructure? Definition and FAQs | OmniSci

“Mavenir is proud to be a leading vendor to mobile operators around the globe, offering software-defined infrastructure that can adapt to evolving requirements for both brownfield and greenfield networks, large-scale to startup networks,” said Ramnik Kamo, EVP Quality, Systems and People, Mavenir. “VIAVI has been a highly collaborative partner with our two companies’ engineering teams working together to prove a new technology against very tight customer timescales.”

“As vendors across the industry develop open, cloud-native and disaggregated architectures, testing against user expectations of service quality will be critical to accelerate adoption at scale,” said Luiz Cesar Oliveira, Vice President, Americas, VIAVI. “We are excited to help Mavenir optimize their advanced radio access solutions based on our unique experience supporting over 200 service providers and virtually every network equipment manufacturer worldwide.”


About VIAVI

VIAVI (NASDAQ: VIAV) is a global provider of network test, monitoring and assurance solutions for communications service providers, enterprises, network equipment manufacturers, government and avionics. We help these customers harness the power of instruments, automation, intelligence and virtualization to Command the network. VIAVI is also a leader in light management solutions for 3D sensing, anti-counterfeiting, consumer electronics, industrial, automotive, and defense applications. Learn more about VIAVI at www.viavisolutions.com. Follow us on VIAVI PerspectivesLinkedInTwitterYouTube and Facebook.

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References:

https://www.viavisolutions.com/en-us/news-releases/mavenir-and-viavi-collaborate-validate-radio-access-solutions-us

https://www.360quadrants.com/compare/cloud-radio-access-network-c-ran-solutions/viavi-solutions-vs-mavenir

 

44 Chinese companies have joined the O-RAN Alliance

by John Strand, Strand Consult (edited by Alan J Weissberger)

In 2019, the world’s mobile network operators earned just over $1 trillion and spent $30 billion on Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, which was some 3 percent of revenue. To reduce cost, mobile operators leverage the pool of network equipment vendors, for example by developing new interfaces in network equipment to lower barriers to entry, under the industry term OpenRAN or “Open Radio Access Network.”

OpenRAN is not a standard, but a collection of technological features purported to allow different vendors to supply 5G networks with “standardized open interfaces” specified by the O-RAN ALLIANCE.

O-RAN Architecture 190122.png

Source:  O-RAN Alliance

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O-RAN only addresses internal RAN components. The wireless telecom industry still relies on 3GPP, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, to build an end-to-end mobile cellular network and to connect end-user devices.

OpenRAN has become a hot topic in tech policy as an antidote to Huawei network equipment in mobile networks, but dozens of Chinese companies have joined the O-RAN ALLIANCE and are poised to drive OpenRAN standards and manufacturing

Chinese technological threats extend beyond Huawei

As the practices and relationships between Huawei and the Chinese government have been revealed, many nation state leaders have demanded the removal of Huawei equipment from communications networks. Huawei itself has not succeeded to demonstrate that it is an employee- owned company free from Chinese government control. China’s practice of civil military fusion means that all economic inputs can be commandeered for military purposes. Its de facto information policy asserts sovereignty over the internet and can thus enjoin any Chinese firm or subject to participate in surveillance and espionage. This means that restricting Huawei alone is not sufficient to secure 5G; the presence of any Chinese product in the network poses a security risk. Now that the Huawei brand name is toxic, many non-Chinese firms see an opportunity to enter the 5G network equipment market, but it is not clear whether and to what degree they will use Chinese standards, components, and manufacturing.

The O-RAN ALLIANCE was established in 2018 by Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, Orange, AT&T, and China Mobile and has grown to 237 mobile operators and network equipment providers. The US has 82 O-RAN Alliance members; China, 44 (3 from Hong Kong); Taiwan, 20; Japan, 14; United Kingdom, 10; India, 10; and Germany, 7. Notably the 44 Chinese member companies exert significant control on the technical specifications and supply chain of OpenRAN 5G products and services. The conundrum of engagement with restricted Chinese entities does not end there. Citing security concerns, the Federal Communications Commission rejected a US operating license to China Mobile and may revoke approvals for China Telecom for its failure to demonstrate that it is not influenced the Chinese government. Other O-RAN ALLIANCE members include Inspur, Lenovo, Tsinghua, and ZTE, companies the US government restricts for security reasons given their ties to the Chinese government and/or military.  The O-RAN ALLIANCE did not return a request for comment.

Some mobile operators cite OpenRAN to avoid ripping and replacing Huawei equipment

While many mobile operators are taking precautions to protect their customers by removing Huawei equipment, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom have resisted. They posit the promise of OpenRAN (with the O-RAN ALLIANCE specification) to justify a delay of rip and replace efforts, knowing that OpenRAN products will not be available for some years. Thus, these three operators can extend the life of Huawei in their 5G networks with the promise of using so called “open” equipment built with Chinese government standards. Separately the cost to rip and replace Huawei in European networks is minimal, about $7 per European mobile subscriber. The mobile operators which have switched out Huawei equipment have not experience increased cost or delay to the rollout of 5G.

Local politicians jump on the OpenRAN bandwagon thinking it has no Chinese connection

With the manufacturing base decimated in the countries they represent, many policymakers have looked to OpenRAN to get back into the network equipment game. Presumably OpenRAN would provide some high-end software jobs, though manufacturing is likely to be dominated by established Chinese entities. A US House bill would offer a whopping $750 million for OpenRAN development, though the location of manufacturing is not conditioned. Similar bills have been offered in UK, Japan, India, Germany, and Brazil.  However commendable the notion of OpenRAN may be from a technical perspective, it appears that China has already outwitted Western leaders. China can afford to lose the Huawei battle if it wins the war on standardizing and building billions of “open”, “interoperable”, and “vendor neutral” devices. As long China influences the O-RAN specifications and manufacturing, it does not care whose brand is used.

Policymakers in the US and EU have today a lot of focus on communications network equipment from Chinese vendors. In 2019 and 2020 Strand Consult published many research notes and reports to help telecom companies navigate a complex world. We focused heavily on the problem of Chinese equipment in telecommunications networks. While the media has largely focused on Huawei, the discussion should be broadened to the many companies that are owned or affiliated with the Chinese government including but not limited to TikTok, Lexmark, Lenovo, TCL, and so on. Although some of our customers disagree with our views, Strand Consult’s job is to publish what is actually happening and how policy decisions may affect their business in the future.

Here are some of Strand Consult’s research.

44 Chinese companies have joined the OpenRAN effort, a strategy to reduce Huawei’s presence in 5G

https://www.o-ran.org/about

https://www.o-ran.org/membership

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Addendum from Light Reading:

Open RAN first surfaced nearly three years ago at Mobile World Congress 2018. It promised a new set of interfaces that would allow service providers to mix and match vendors at the same mobile site, instead of buying all products from the same supplier. Operators hoped it would inject competition into a market dominated by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.

Since then, geopolitics has propelled it to the very top of the telecom agenda. Non-Chinese policymakers have latched onto open RAN as an alternative to Huawei, a Chinese vendor that governments are banning and operators are ditching because of its suspected links to an increasingly authoritarian Chinese state.

Avoiding Chinese equipment makers is one thing. Skirting Chinese technology expertise is not so easy. Already, there is concern that China, through Huawei and ZTE, has too much influence in the 3GPP, the group that develops the 5G standard. Further worsening of relations between Western democracies and China could prompt a future break-up of international standards-setting bodies, according to several experts.

Chinese influence:

These circumstances leave open RAN in an awkward situation. Anyone listening to the Open RAN Policy Coalition might think the technology was born in the USA and has never set foot in China. The O-RAN Alliance shows otherwise. Its most prominent Chinese members include ZTE, an equipment vendor that was on a US trade blacklist until it hawked up billions in fines. Also named are China Mobile and China Telecom, two state-backed operators that turned up on a Pentagon blacklist in June.

China Mobile is a busy member of the group, says a source who requested anonymity. That is hardly surprising as it was arguably the main force in the C-RAN Alliance, a Chinese group whose merger with the largely American xRAN Forum created the O-RAN Alliance in 2018. Today, the Chinese operator is a very active contributor to specifications, according to Light Reading’s source. ZTE has been similarly engaged, said sources within the company at the start of the year.

None of this will be very palatable to US politicians determined to block China’s influence. Yet any break-up of the O-RAN Alliance into C-RAN Alliance and xRAN Forum camps would be a major setback for open RAN. It would complicate development and threaten new disputes over intellectual property.

Right now, the issue of technology patents means the O-RAN Alliance faces a potential dilemma about involving Huawei. The group’s interfaces build heavily on specifications developed outside the O-RAN Alliance by Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and Huawei. The Nordic and Japanese vendors have all now joined the club, agreeing to license their patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. But Huawei has not. There is concern it could attempt to thwart open RAN by arguing its patents have been infringed.

While addressing that risk, its membership of the O-RAN Alliance would create other problems. For one thing, China’s biggest slab of tech R&D muscle would – paradoxically – have gained entry to the design room of the technology touted as a Huawei substitute. US policymakers able to live with China Mobile and China Telecom might balk at the involvement of telecom public enemy number one.

 

 

Open RAN forecast

Source: Appledore Research.

Source: Appledore Research.

It would also make all three big telecom equipment vendors a part of the specifications group. That would increase the likelihood that Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia become the main suppliers of open RAN products, frustrating efforts to nurture competitors. There are already doubts that smaller rivals will be able to land much open RAN work. Appledore Research, an analyst firm, reckons open RAN will generate $11.1 billion in revenues in 2026. As much as $8 billion will go to the incumbents, it predicts.

Ever wary of open RAN, Huawei signaled its growing interest in the technology in July, when Victor Zhang, its vice president, was being grilled by UK politicians. “We are watching open RAN as one of the choices,” he told a parliamentary committee. “Once it has comparable performance to single RAN, we believe Huawei will be one of the best suppliers of open RAN as well.” Outside China, an open RAN ecosystem that makes space for Huawei could fast lose its appeal.

https://www.lightreading.com/open-ran/chinas-role-in-open-ran-is-looming-problem/d/d-id/766204?

 

Progress in 5G private networks and Open RAN

Harry Baldock of Total Telecom writes, “The month of November was one of quiet progress for 5G, with more momentum steadily being gained for long-term trends towards private network deployments and open RAN innovation.”

 

Private 5G networks could be viable connectivity options for major industries like manufacturing and shipping, giving them not only access to the latest technologies to enhance efficiency, but also the flexibility to structure their network however they please.

In Europe, the German telecom regulator announced in November that it has awarded 88 licences for private 5G networks this year and expects more to come.  For example, Nokia recently installed a private 5G network in Nuremburg for industrial IoT specialist MYNXG. In France, electronics manufacturer Lacroix is working with with Orange and Ericsson to create a 5G factory, and in the UK BT is installing a 5G network into Belfast Harbour, while Huawei is creating a private 5G testbed in Cambridge.

There has also been significant movement in the U.S., with General Motor’s new Factory ZERO  installing a private 5G network from Verizon to manufacture the next generation of electric vehicles.

However, it should be remembered that despite its promise, private 5G networks are also still very much in their infancy, with a survey from STL Partners showing that the majority of enterprises still rely primarily on Wi-Fi and ethernet or fixed broadband for their connectivity needs.

Meanwhile, Open RAN has been gaining momentum for some months now as we reported yesterday in this IEEE Techblog post.    In November, Dish and Qualcomm announced that they are set to work together on the U.S.’s first Open RAN-compliant (which spec?) 5G network. Similarly, in the UK, Vodafone’s August pilot for Open RAN, that took place in Wales, is being scaled up to 2,600 Open RAN sites in Wales and England, potentially using them to replace Huawei gear.

Meanwhile, companies like Mavenir continue to rapidly develop open RAN solutions, recently boasting of supporting 2G–5G for its open RAN packet core, thanks to a recent acquisition of ip.access.

Baldock concludes, “it seems fair to say that Open RAN is here to stay and is no longer something of a novelty. While many issues remain around things like standardization (e.g. no liaison with either ITU, ETSI or 3GPP) the movement is beginning to see increasing interest from operators and policymakers alike.”

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References:

https://www.totaltele.com/508088/The-5G-aliser-November-2020-Update-Interest-in-private-networks-and-open-RAN-continues-to-rise

https://techblog.comsoc.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=343338&action=edit

German Telecom Regulator awards 5G private network licenses in the 3.7GHz to 3.8GHz band

Altiostar and NEC demonstrate front haul at India’s first O-RAN Alliance plugfest hosted by Bharti Airtel

Altiostar and NEC today said that they participated in the first plugfest event in the India region for the O-RAN ALLIANCE. Hosted by Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), India’s largest integrated telecommunications services provider, the goal of the O-RAN Plugfest was to test and demonstrate the growing maturity of the O-RAN ecosystem.

Bharti Airtel plugfest was in partnership with telecom players like Altiostar, Altran, ASOCS, MavenirNECSterlite Technologies (STL), VVDN, among others to demonstrate emerging technologies such as 5G.

“We are committed to evolving our network through an open architecture and are delighted to partner with the O-RAN community. This offers a great opportunity to Indian organizations with innovative hardware, software, and services capabilities to build a “’ Make in India – O-RAN solution’ – for Indian and global markets.” said Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel.

The Indian telco is currently working with various US and Japanese vendors like Altiostar and NEC to develop OpenRAN based 5G telecom equipment, ETTelecom exclusively reported recently.

Airtel revealed that it is engaging with “Disruptive Telecom Equipment Vendors” to develop innovative solutions customized to Airtel’s requirements based on OpenRAN technology. “As a TSDSI Member, Airtel has proposed a new study Item on “Adoption of O-RAN Specification by TSDSI and contribution towards the development of India.

Specific use cases within the TSDSI Network Study Group (SG-N). Airtel will be submitting contributions in the form of a Study Report on O-RAN in SGN, and will also be collaborating with industry partners on the subject,” the telco had said.

“Testing and integration are crucial for developing a commercially available open RAN ecosystem and that’s why the O-RAN Alliance provides its member companies with an efficient global plugfest framework, which complements the O-RAN specification effort as well as the O-RAN Software Community,” said Andre Fuetsch, Chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and Chief Technology Officer of AT&T.

The telco has been a member of the O-RAN Alliance since its establishment in 2018.  The first India edition of O-RAN Plugfest is part of Airtel’s commitment to building an open technology ecosystem, including O-RAN-based deployments, said the telco in an official statement.

It was also the first operator in India to commercially deploy a virtual RAN solution based on disaggregated and open architecture defined by the O-RAN Alliance.

Airtel, Altiostar and NEC teamed up for this project to demonstrate the world’s first interoperability testing and integration of massive MIMO radio units (O-RU) and virtualized distributed units (O-DU) running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. The project featured a commercial end-to-end Open Fronthaul interface based on O-RAN specifications. This demonstration was comprised of control, user, synchronization and management plane protocols, including 3GPP RCT and performance cases.

ABI Research: Open RAN radio units to exceed $47 billion by 2026 -  Technology Blog

The purpose and scope of this demonstration was to show O-RAN option 7.2x split integration between a virtualized O-DU from Altiostar and an NR O-RU (i.e. 5G radio unit) from NEC. The demonstration also showed how this integrated setup can be used in an end-to-end EN-DC network setup (i.e. 5G non standalone architecture).

Going forward, Altiostar and NEC will continue to jointly drive new levels of openness in radio access networks (RAN) and across next-generation 5G networks.

“Today’s 4G and 5G radio access networks are undergoing a profound transformation, as the wireless industry is shifting to an open and cloud-native architecture that is being driven by vendors such as Altiostar and NEC, who are at the forefront of providing software and radio solutions based on O-RAN standards,” said Anil Sawkar, Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Altiostar. “Dozens of greenfield and brownfield wireless operators worldwide are trialling and deploying O-RAN networks as they realize the benefits of this new approach, including reduced costs, increased automation, and faster time to market with services.”

“Providing open innovations that conform to industry standards in the radio access network is critical to accelerating our customers’ journey towards Open RAN deployment and provisioning of more flexible and efficient networks that meet the requirements of cutting edge 5G use cases,” said Kazuhiko Harasaki, Deputy General Manager, Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC Corporation. “It is NEC’s honor to contribute to interoperability verification initiatives in India towards Open RAN innovation.”

Airtel has been a member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE since its inception in 2018.  Airtel was the first operator in India to commercially deploy a virtual RAN solution based on a disaggregated and open architecture defined by O-RAN. “We are delighted to partner with the global O-RAN community. Our engagement with Altiostar and NEC for demonstrating O-RAN O-DU and O-RU, 5G RCT and E2E performance is another step forward towards building 5G systems with open network architecture,” said Randeep Sekhon, CTO at Bharti Airtel.

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About Altiostar:
Based outside Boston, Altiostar provides 4G and 5G open virtualized RAN (Open vRAN) software that supports open interfaces and virtualizes the baseband unit to build a disaggregated multi-vendor, web-scale, cloud-native mobile network. Operators can add intelligence, quickly adapt the network for different services and automate operations to rapidly scale the network and reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Altiostar collaborates with a growing ecosystem of partners to support a diverse Open RAN supply chain. The Altiostar Open vRAN solution based on O-RAN standards has been deployed globally, including the world’s first cloud-native commercial-scale mobile network with Rakuten Mobile in Japan.  For more information, visit www.altiostar.com. 

About NEC Corporation:
NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.

About Airtel:
Headquartered in India, Airtel is a global telecommunications company with operations in 18 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks amongst the top three mobile operators globally and its mobile network covers a population of over two billion people. Airtel is India’s largest integrated telecom provider and the second largest mobile operator in Africa. At the end of September 2020, Airtel had approx. 440 mn customers across its operations.

Airtel’s portfolio includes high speed 4G/4.5G mobile broadband, Airtel Xstream Fiber that promises speeds up to 1Gbps, converged digital TV solutions through the Airtel Xstream 4K Hybrid Box, digital payments through Airtel Payments Bank as well as an integrated suite of services across connectivity, collaboration, cloud and security that serves over one million businesses.

Airtel’s OTT services include Airtel Thanks app for self-care, Airtel Xstream app for video, Wynk Music for entertainment and Airtel BlueJeans for video conferencing. In addition, Airtel has forged strategic partnerships with hundreds of companies across the world to enable the Airtel platform to deliver an array of consumer and enterprise services.

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/altiostar-and-nec-demonstrated-o-ran-open-fronthaul-at-global-o-ran-alliance-plugfest-hosted-by-bharti-airtel-in-india-301171257.html

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/bharti-airtel-hosts-indias-first-o-ran-alliance-plugfest/79187934

Global O-RAN Plugfests Across 5 Countries with 4G and 5G Lab and Field Test Platforms

Plugfests in Europe and India have been demonstrating the interoperability of telecom equipment using the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) specifications. The plugfests were organized by the leading telecom communications service providers (CSPs) and the O-RAN Alliance with a series of on-site demonstrations in multiple countries. The plugfest involved a series of on-site demonstrations in multiple countries, conducted in September and October 2020.  In a multi-vendor based O-RAN environment, ensuring interoperability will become the network operator’s principal concern.

European O-RAN plugfests show 4G and 5G field tests

                                                                  O-RAN Plugfest 2020 Integration and Testing Configuration

O-RAN Architecture 190122.png

Image Credits: O-RAN Alliance

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Test equipment provider Viavi was involved in the plugfests with its Test Suite for O-RAN Specifications to validate that all interfaces are working correctly, including the RF, signaling and interoperability, timing and synchronization.  The VIAVI Test Suite for O-RAN Specifications offers comprehensive, integrated solutions to validate that all interfaces are working correctly – including RF, signaling and interoperability, timing and synchronization – and equipment is performing to specifications even under load and stress. In the lab, the TM500 and TeraVM families deliver UE, O-RAN subsystem and core network simulation to enable conformance, interoperability and performance testing of both complete base station and core network testing as well as wraparound testing of individual O-RAN subsystems and core network elements. In both the lab and the field, T-BERD/MTS-5800 validates critical synchronization parameters with necessary precision using its Timing Extension Module (TEM), delivering a highly stable reference signal for synchronizing test equipment and O-RAN components. CellAdvisor 5G characterizes and analyzes 4G and 5G RF signals. ONT-800 tests transport network performance up to 800G.

  • The plugfest in Berlin, Germany, was hosted by Deutsche Telekom, with demonstrations of radio access equipment from Baicells, Benetel, Foxconn, QCT, Wind River, Wiwynn and other vendors. Viavi provided its TM500 including UE emulation for performance testing and O-DU emulation for O-RU subsystem testing; TeraVM for core emulation and traffic generation; MTS-5800 for transport and synchronization test; and CellAdvisor 5G for RF signal analysis.
  • In a plugfest in Torino, Italy, hosted by TIM, VIAVI provided the MTS-5800 for timing and synchronization in demonstrations of radio access equipment from Commscope, WNC, Wiwynn and other vendors.
  • Madrid, Spain plugfest was hosted by a major Spanish service provider, with demonstrations of O-RAN x-haul (fronthaul and midhaul) transport with equipment from multiple vendors. VIAVI provided the MTS-5800 for timing and synchronization, and ONT-800 for multi-port transport test.
  • Bengaluru (Bangalore), India plugfest was hosted by Airtel, with demonstrations of multi-vendor integration of O-RAN compliant radio access software and equipment from Altiostar, NEC, VVDN and Xilinx. The VIAVI TM500-C-5G 5G NR UE emulator and TM500 O-RU emulator were used for in-depth verification of the O-DU’s compliance to the WG4 open fronthaul (C/U/S planes) specification. • Tokyo, Japan. This plugfest was hosted by Japanese service providers, with demonstrations of radio equipment from major O-DU/O-CU and O-RU vendors. VIAVI provided the TM500 for 5G NR UE emulation.

“As a champion of interoperability test methodologies, and the first company to introduce a comprehensive test suite for O-RAN specifications, VIAVI has worked closely with ecosystem partners and operators worldwide to help identify, isolate and resolve performance issues with disaggregated networks,” said Sameh Yamany, Chief Technology Officer, VIAVI. “The successful results of the global O-RAN ALLIANCE plugfest represent a significant step forward in the advancement of multi-vendor O-RAN environments, which are essential to scaling and sustaining 5G networks.”

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Viavi is a global provider of network test, monitoring and assurance solutions for communications service providers, enterprises, network equipment manufacturers, government and avionics. We help these customers harness the power of instruments, automation, intelligence and virtualization to Command the network. VIAVI is also a leader in light management solutions for 3D sensing, anti-counterfeiting, consumer electronics, industrial, automotive, and defense applications. Learn more about VIAVI at www.viavisolutions.com.

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References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viavi-participates-in-global-o-ran-plugfest-across-five-countries-with-4g-and-5g-lab-and-field-test-platforms-301161470.html

https://www.o-ran.org/

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ad774cce74940d7115044b0/t/5f88ac86a861db37b8f7df78/1602792591334/O-RAN-2020.10.15-PR-2nd-O-RAN-Plugfest-v1.0.pdf