Top 3 Benefits of the RIC for All RAN

As 5G gains momentum and new innovative mobile architectures are being adopted worldwide, a key component that will drive radio network automation and optimization is the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC).

While RIC was created to enable network automation per O-RAN Alliance specifications, Mavenir developed a RIC solution that serves as the foundation of the next generation self-organizing network (SON) for any RAN environment. Any network, whether using Open RAN, virtualized RAN, or traditional RAN, can benefit from the RIC and the innovation it offers.

Let’s explore the top three benefits of the RIC for all RAN.

1. RIC Enables Open Innovation

In the current state, only a handful of vendors have access to RAN feature development, but now with RIC there are many vendors with many killer apps and ideas that offer operators the potential to save money and improve performance. This open innovation direction enables implementing RAN solutions with agility and speed.

One example is innovative experimentation in the RAN. Maintenance windows used to be set for 1 a.m., when no meaningful traffic would be on the network. Now, operators can create a segment or slice in the network specifically for trialing new solutions and testing algorithm’s effectiveness any time in the day or night.

This kind of velocity is what telecom operators need to compete in a 5G business, where agility is everything for gaining more market share. The RIC is a start in the right direction by setting the platform for innovation that has not existed before, and this is arguably one of the most significant contributions by the O-RAN Alliance to the RAN industry.

2. RIC Gives More Control to CSPs

A key differentiator for CSPs is network performance. To enable the promised 5G use cases, whether it is low latency or high throughput, operators require fine-grained control of the RAN to ensure that performance.

The RAN is critical for the operator’s business as it manages the most important asset the operator has: spectrum. CSPs are investing significant amounts of money in spectrum but have shockingly little control over it with existing RAN technology. RIC offers tremendous opportunities for operators striving to improve RAN performance and capacity in an open way with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms developed by their own engineers and from a plethora of innovative suppliers, unshackling them from the legacy RAN vendors.

In an industry where operators tout the “largest” or the “fastest” network in their TV commercials, being able to ensure network performance and get the most out of spectrum investments are important. An xApp in the Near-Real-Time RIC allows operators to use spectrum in the most efficient way by using an AI/ML algorithm, which improves quality of experience for customers while improving spectral efficiency.

3. RIC Provides Real-Time RAN Automation

With 5G, RAN automation is not an option, it is a necessity. RIC offers the ability to make changes and automate processes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In traditional environments, the RAN can be considered “semi-automated” and non-real time as it requires manual intervention to execute changes recommended by the C-SON controller. Typically, changes are at a cell-level, requiring longer time horizon for data gathering and analysis pre and post change. In the case of RIC, which has a near-real-time component, the optimization decisions are taken in milliseconds as part of the call processing at the user level. This provides a significant advantage to the operators for real-time control and automation of RAN, while leveraging an open framework and platform. The key distinction is “open,” because unlike D-SON, Near-Real-Time RIC is open for operators to implement any xAPP from any source on any RAN.

A more complex network means the complexity of running it and automating it has increased as well. Unfortunately, operators still use the same process with no predictive or systematic approach.

That changes with the RIC. The “real-timeness” or timeliness and the level of granularity of adjustments on automation is a key factor of what the RIC provides to the RAN market. It’s more about real-time automation, micro automation, and micro adjustments. These adjustments can be executed in an automated way because there’s a non-real-time RIC training AI/ML models to form declarative policies, and then deploying that to the near-real-time RIC.

More to Come from RIC Innovations

As the RIC continues to evolve, the innovation it offers to CSPs will continue to transform RAN deployments in years to come. The movement towards more openness in the RAN market is exciting and intriguing. RIC is a key factor why this openness is going to be beneficial for the RAN industry.

For More Insights

Listen to the webinar RIC as the Next Generation SON for All RAN featuring insights from Mavenir’s Kuntal Chowdhury and Light Counting Analyst Stephane Teral.

Download the whitepaper, RIC as the Next Generation SON for Open RAN and More.

Learn more about Mavenir AI and Analytics solutions.

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