OPENING UP ON THE OpenRAN
The concept of open goes beyond just standards interoperability. A RAN built by Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei will be interoperable with any device, any core, any transmission network attaching to it – due to its conformance with standards. That is a standards-based network.
The vision of the OpenRAN is that it is open within the RAN, with the interfaces and operating software separating the RAN control plane from the user plane, building a modular base station software stack that operates on common-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, with open north- and south-bound interface. This architecture would mean that baseband units, radio units, and remote radio heads can, in theory, be assembled from any vendor and plugged together to form a network.
On Adva Optical’s booth, there was a demo of network slicing across a deconstructed RAN, with Mavenir radio equipment and vBBU and vEPC with Control and User Plane separation providing slice control across ADVA demarcation and edge servers. The demo included SDN-controlled front and backhaul with NFV infrastructure for edge hosting. An additional demo had a small cell from Accelleran and a performance assurance toolkit from Spirent. One of the aims for BT is to be able to demonstrate Network Slicing control across backhaul links on a wholesale basis.