Key test setups for 5G Open RAN Split 6 small cells

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The Small Cell Forum (SCF) has released a paper outlining the key test configurations for 3GPP TS38.141 compliance testing of split 6 products using the SCF nFAPI 2.0 interface.

Led by UK chip developer Picocom and test giant Keysight Technologies, the paper aims to inform operators and integrators on how split 6 products can be tested with specifications derived from 3GPP standards.

“Open RAN disaggregated networks facilitate vendor diversification with radio units and distributed units supplied by different vendors. It is imperative that vendors can be confident their units are compliant when tested as a complete system, and a test solution particularly for S-RU needed developing,” said Vicky Messer, Director Product Management at Picocom in Bristol.

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SCF has developed and published a set of 5G specifications intended to stimulate innovation and competition across the small cell ecosystem through multi-vendor interoperability within products and between different products of small cell networks. All of this is within the 3GPP defined disaggregated functional split framework. The paper is here.

The latest market forecast from SCF shows considerable interest in split 6 for shorter range small cells in indoor enterprise, campus, and private networks. Operators and systems integrators will need to integrate disaggregated network components including the control, distributed and radio units from different vendors, and for integration/testing these need to be compliant with 3GPP test specification TS38.141.

However, the units need to be able to be tested individually as well as part of an integrated system. The paper looks at the impact of split 6 on 5G base station compliance testing with options and different solutions for testing S-RU and S-DUs. It also delivers an overview of TS38.141 test approach for split 6 products

 “The test methodology recommended in this paper enables vendors to perform conformance testing without requiring any specialized test mode on their S-RU, thus removing a major pain point in the development and deployment process,” said Balaji Raghothaman, Chief Architect at Keysight Technologies.

“The SCF standardized nFAPI interface is an Open RAN interface that can be used across the ecosystem of S-RU vendors and S-DU vendors, but it is essential that it can also be used by test equipment vendors,” said Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. “This document from SCF is a timely companion to the nFAPI specifications, and is expected to accelerate the development, testing and deployment of S-RU and S-DU based disaggregated Open RAN solutions.”;;

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