Deutsche Telekom, ONF lead open RAN trial with open RIC

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is working with Deutsche Telekom on an open radio access network (RAN) trial in Berlin, Germany. The trial integrates components from eight companies and uses ONF’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) software.

The eight participating vendors are AirHop, Edgecore, Facebook, Foxconn, Intel, Radisys, Supermicro and Wiwynn. The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is also participating by providing hardware and facilities out of the TIP Community Lab in Berlin, which is hosted by DT. The on-site integration is being coordinated by Highstreet Technologies.

The live trial features disaggregated hardware: separate DU and CU units from Radisys and radio units (RUs) from Foxconn. The ONF is providing its open source near-real-time RIC and xApps from its SD-RAN project.  

The trial also leverages the ONF’s Aether, a centrally-managed, multi-cloud, cloud-native platform.

The ONF says that by integrating proprietary and open-source components the trial exemplifies how future open RAN deployments could take shape.

“The SD-RAN Berlin Trial with DT is a significant industry milestone for open RAN,” said Guru Parulkar, executive director of the ONF in a statement. “At ONF we are seeing tremendous interest from the mobile community for our open-source implementation of the O-RAN architecture, and this trial demonstrates the maturity of the SD-RAN open source RIC and xApp development platform.”

ONF chart

Near-real-time RIC

Recently, some panelists speaking at a 6G Symposium discussed the future of the RIC. They said the RIC will automatically manage much of the intelligence of the RAN in a way that was previously referred to as a self-organizing network (SON). And the advances of the RIC will someday enable the radio access network to act as kind of an “Apple Store” for applications within the wireless network.
 
RELATED: 6G RAN Intelligent Controllers will function like an app store

At that 6G Symposium, Balaji Raghothaman, chief architect for infrastructure solutions at Keysight Technologies, gave a little primer on the near-real-time RIC.

He said RIC functions can be divided into two categories: the near-real-time RIC and the non-real-time RIC. The dividing line between the two is how fast you have to turn things around from the time you make some observations to the time you have to make decisions. “If it is of the order of seconds or less then you’re in the near-real-time RIC,” said Raghothaman. If you have more time than that, then the functions can be handled by the non-real-time RIC.  

He said the idea is that all of the RAN modules like the DU, CU and RU will provide measurements and data to the RIC, which will then be able to crunch through them using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

TIP and RIC

The Telecom Infra Project is hosting a RAN sub-group called the Radio Intelligence and Automation (RIA) group.

In today’s news about the open RAN trial in Berlin, Attilio Zani, executive director of TIP said, “TIP is pleased to be collaborating to support the SD-RAN Berlin Trial. The RIA sub-group of the TIP OpenRAN project is prioritizing use cases for open RAN that are being highlighted by this effort, so we see terrific synergies working with ONF and the broader SD-RAN community to support this first-of-its-kind trial featuring a multi-vendor mix of RU/DU/CU controlled by an open RIC and xApps.”

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