ORAN Alliance launched by carriers

Friday, 02 March, 2018

ORAN Alliance launched by carriers

A worldwide, carrier-led effort to evolve radio access networks has just been launched.

The ORAN Alliance (Open Radio Access Network) is a joint venture between AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO and Orange.

As mobile traffic increases, mobile networks and the equipment that runs them must become more energy efficient (green), software-driven (soft), virtualised, flexible and intelligent.

The alliance is committed to making radio access networks more open and smarter than previous generations. Real-time analytics that drive embedded machine learning systems and artificial intelligence back-end modules will empower network intelligence.

Additional virtualised network elements with open, standardised interfaces will be key aspects of the reference designs developed by the ORAN Alliance. Technologies from open source and open whitebox network elements will be important software and hardware components of these reference designs.

The alliance will combine and extend the efforts of the C-RAN Alliance and the xRAN Forum into a single operator-led effort.

The key principles of the ORAN Alliance include:

  • Leading the industry towards open, interoperable interfaces, RAN virtualisation, and big data-enabled RAN intelligence;
  • Maximising the use of common-off-the-shelf hardware and merchant silicon and minimising proprietary hardware;
  • Specifying APIs and interfaces, driving standards to adopt them as appropriate, and exploring open source where appropriate.

“ORAN represents a comprehensive embodiment of Communication 4.0 and is empowered by the true information, communications and data technology (ICDT) convergence,” said Zhengmao Li, CTO of China Mobile.

“It will drive the radio access network from green and soft to open and smart. And ultimately operators will expect future networks to be built with deeply embedded intelligence, much higher efficiency, lower cost, great agility and flexibility, and all at manageable complexity.”

“To take full advantage of the flexibility of 5G, we have to go beyond the new radios and change the overall architecture of the end-to-end system,” said Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer.

“Open modularity, intelligent software defined networks and virtualisation will be essential to deliver agile services to our customers. ORAN will accelerate industry progress in these areas.”

“For 5G to unlock new business opportunities and markets, it is essential that we evolve a RAN infrastructure platform that allows us to innovate quickly to meet customer expectations. The ORAN approach, to drive more openness, modularity and programmability in our future networks, can enable a more agile delivery of services to our customers,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP research and technology innovation, Deutsche Telekom.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Les Cunliffe

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