Vodafone, Cohere Technologies, VMware, Capgemini Engineering, Intel and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have successfully demonstrated an Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) platform to allow multiple customers to use the same 5G site.
In a test lab, the companies showed a doubling of the capacity of a 5G cell site using a programmable RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) supporting a mix of Open RAN components from multiple vendors. This collaboration represents a key milestone in demonstrating the potential of RIC sitting at the heart of an Open RAN installation.
This is the first demonstration of 5G Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) says Vodafone, providing more capacity at a single cell site. MU-MIMO provides bandwidth to individual users connected to the same mobile site and is considered the pivotal technique to boost cell capacity in future 5G networks.
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“This initiative validates the role that this powerful new platform plays in defining Open RAN as the future of networking. It boosts capacity for customers when they need it most, reduces the need for expensive hardware by a third and cuts down on energy consumption,” said Francisco Martín, Head of Open RAN at Vodafone.
The Cohere Spectrum Multiplier MU-MIMO scheduler used in the trial will double the bandwidth of 700MHz IoT networks using traditional MIMO multiple antennas. This software can be extended to Massive MIMO in mid-band networks, for example at 3.5GHz, with capacity gains of 4 to 5x.
OpenRAN allows base stations to be built using hardware and software from multiple vendors, rather than just one or two suppliers. Driven by software, it means it is easier and cheaper to extend mobile networks and carry out upgrades without replacing hardware. It splits or separates the radio functions of a mobile mast which means the hardware that manages the radio functions at the cell site can be reduced. Open software APIs allow the integration of third-party applications allowing a diverse set of vendors to contribute with new products and services.
“Intel’s technology integrated into this initiative provides validation to the industry that our joint innovative solutions meet the high standards and multi-faceted requirements of the 5G network for connectivity, coverage and performance.” said Cristina Rodriguez, VP of Intel Data Platforms Group.
The new system tested by the companies reduces the need for expensive and energy-consuming hardware within a mobile base station by up to a third. It also supports new advanced radio applications for critical business and consumer applications.
The RIC architecture, which is standardised by the O-RAN ALLIANCE, is fundamental in creating an open framework designed to further improve the cost-effectiveness of Open RAN, as well as expanding supply chain diversity.
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