European telecoms giant Nokia is joining in the move to OpenRAN telecoms equipment with its first collaboration lab. The move follows major customers such as Vodafone opening their own labs for the technology that is based around an open specification.
The location of the lab in Dallas, Texas, highlights the opportunity Nokia sees in the US market that is driving the takeup of OpenRAN for private 5G and IoT networks as well as public infrastructure. Nokia also has less of its traditional proprietary end-to-end business in the US compared to Europe and the rest of the world, although it is also planning other OpenRAN labs.
The SONIC lab in the UK is looking to provide the same capabilities and another leading OpenRAN equipment supplier, NEC, has also set up its global lab in the UK.
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The O-RAN Collaboration and Testing Centre in Dallas will support the development of partnerships among OpenRAN vendors to help with the verification, introduction and launch of OpenRAN hardware and software. In particular, vendors will be able to execute Interoperability Tests (IOT) and end-to-end testing for O-RU/O-DU Open Fronthaul as well as xAPP testing for Nokia’s near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC). Dallas also hosts the Nokia corporate Innovation centre for the US, alongside the Nokia Bell lab in New Jersey that was acquired from Alcatel.
The short-term focus for the Dallas OpenRAN centre is on Open Fronthaul and near-real-time RIC expanding to other O-RAN interfaces in the near future. The company is also wary about protecting IP, saying it places particular emphasis on the protection of participants’ intellectual property and confidential material. It provides work area isolation of vendor personnel, equipment and data through access controls, separate secure work areas, and network segregation.
Nokia says it plans to open similar facilities at its other global offices around the world in the future.
The US government last week put out a call for vendors of OpenRAN hardware and software to test interoperability and cost effectiveness.
“Our new O-RAN Collaboration and Testing Centre highlights our continued commitment towards O-RAN and the development of new solutions. At our Dallas offices we have created a collaborative and secure working environment that offers best-in-class facilities to help our partners achieve their goal,” said Pasi Toivanen, Head of Edge Cloud at Nokia.
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