The Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Alliance has announced the release of its first Open Fronthaul Specification amid a range of planned Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 demonstrations, as part of its efforts to democratise cellular networking and support a move to white-box radio systems.
“We are excited to release the first O-RAN Open Fronthaul Specification,” says Professor Sachin Katti, O-RAN TSC co-chair, of the organisation’s efforts. “O-RAN has leveraged significant specification work done in xRAN and will accelerate interoperability testing and product commercialisation. Further, the O-RAN fronthaul workgroup has also started discussions on potential new study items to pursue for 2019.”
The specification is to be demonstrated during Mobile World Congress (MWC) later this month, as part of a range of demonstrations planned by the O-RAN Alliance. “Building on the ICDT convergence momentum accelerated by the O-RAN leadership, and the foundation of the long-term C-RAN Alliance partnership,” adds O-RAN TSC co-chair Chih-Lin I, “we are excited to showcase several proof-of-concepts demonstrating the progress toward a more open and intelligent RAN.”
These demonstrations are to include: Open Fronthaul Interface, which showcases the use of O-RAN’s Open Front Haul specification with a variety of vendors to achieve interoperability between the O-DU and O-RU enabled by fully specified control, user, synchronisation, and management plane protocols; O-RAN Aligned Implementation of Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) Load Balancing, which showcases predictive load balancing using Smart Radio Fingerprint technology that provides opportunities to interoperability using O-RAN architecture interfaces and established industry elements; AI Empowered User Quality of Experience (QoE), which demonstrates predictive user QoE enabled by machine learning micro services chained together to autonomously recognise traffic types in real-time, predict quality, and provide closed-loop network controls with the aim of providing a consistent, high-quality 5G user experience; Virtualised O-CU on Akraino Edge Cloud Orchestrated by ONAP, which shows the integration of virtualised CU with a community supported Akraino edge stack blueprint packaged into a “cloud appliance”; Programmable mmWave White-Box Radio Unit, a mmWave smart O-RU transmitting a 5G NR signal with 100 MHz bandwidth using a 5G open RAN test platform and a 28 GHz O-RU white-box with a beamformed active antenna system to two UEs test emulators; and Open Hardware Reference Design for Sub 6 GHz Indoor Coverage, supporting both 4G and 5G use.
The O-RAN Alliance’s programmes, which are part of an industry-wide movement away from the traditional Common Public Radio Interface and its tendency towards the promotion of vendor lock-in, mesh with Lime Microsystem’s own efforts towards the democratisation of wireless connectivity. From the newly-announced LimeNET Micro combined software-defined radio and general purpose processing (SDR/GPP) platform, which brings carrier-grade technology to a price point suitable for community, educational, and even hobbyist use, to the Telecom Infra Project CrowdCell system, Lime’s entire product portfolio is designed to assist manufacturers, vendors, and end users with commoditisation and the shift from proprietary platforms to a white-box model of interoperability.
More information on the O-RAN Alliance’s planned MWC demonstrations can be found on the official website.