Accelerating Network Transformation with Cloud-Native Open RAN
OpenRAN principles present an alternative way of building networks that ensures interoperability, vendor competition, element security and reduced operating costs across the radio access networks (RAN).
OpenRAN focuses on using vendor-neutral hardware and software based on open interfaces and community-developed standards, giving operators the ability to use one supplier’s radios with another supplier’s RAN applications. With 5G deployment plans in full-swing, operators around the globe are using the opportunity to transform their mobile network.
Mavenir’s OpenRAN vRAN solution is the world’s first fully containerized, virtualized OpenRAN Split 7.2 architecture. It leverages open interfaces, virtualization and web-scale containerization to support various deployment scenarios – including private, hybrid cloud, and public cloud – resulting in nearly 40% savings in TCO over 5 years.
What is Open RAN?
Open Radio Access Networks, or Open RAN, refers to a disaggregated approach to deploying mobile networks by using open and interoperable protocols and interfaces, which allows for increased flexibility over traditional RAN systems. Open RAN can be implemented with vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology based on open interfaces and industry-developed standards.
In a traditional RAN system, the radio, hardware and software are proprietary. This means that nearly all of the equipment comes from one supplier and that operators are unable to, for example, deploy a network using radios from one vendor with hardware and software from another vendor.
Mixing and matching cell sites from different providers typically leads to a performance reduction. The result is that most network operators, while supporting multiple RAN vendors, will deploy networks using a single vendor in a geographic region.
Open RAN is not a technology, but rather an ongoing shift in mobile network architecture that allows networks to be built using subcomponents from a variety of vendors. The key concept of Open RAN is “opening” the protocols and interfaces between the various subcomponents (radios, hardware and software) in the RAN. As a technical matter this is what the industry refers to as a disaggregated RAN. The benefits of this approach include increased network agility and flexibility, increased innovation and cost savings.
There are three primary elements in the RAN:
- The Radio Unit (RU) is where the radio frequency signals are transmitted, received, amplified and digitized. The RU is located near, or integrated into, the antenna.
- The Distributed Unit (DU) is where the real-time, baseband processing functions reside. The DU can be deployed at the cell site or concentrated in aggregated locations.
- The Centralized Unit (CU) is where the less time-sensitive packet processing functions typically reside.
It is the interfaces between the RU, DU and the CU that are the main focus of Open RAN. By opening and standardizing these interfaces (among others in the network), and incentivizing implementation of the same, we move to an environment where networks can be deployed with a more modular design without being dependent upon a single vendor. Making these changes can also allow the DU and CU to be run as virtualized software functions on vendor-neutral hardware.
The Benefits of Open RAN vRAN
COST SAVINGS. You can build a virtualized network, containerize it and each of the elements can be completely broken down. This modern network can support either tens of subscribers to millions of subscribers. It just depends on how many instances and substantiations of the VNFs can you run on a single platform.
MULTIPLE OPERATORS & NETWORK SHARING. OpenRAN vRAN can run multiple operators using multiple VNFs sitting side-by-side on the same platform to have segregated networks. The other benefit is network sharing in the future through software.
ELIMINATE VENDOR LOCK-IN. OpenRAN breaks open the interface between the remote radio head and the DU. With current legacy vendors, it’s a walled garden and proprietary. Through O-RAN, a fully open interface on Split 7.2 has been defined including all the OEM.
SECURITY. OpenRAN enables operators with full visibility and control of their network’s end-to-end security. OpenRAN interfaces, defined in the O-RAN technical specifications, provide increased independent visibility and the opportunity for an overall enhanced and more secure system. Since O-RAN Alliance builds on 3GPP’s 5G NR architecture, it benefits from 3GPP’s advanced security features introduced for 5G.
3rd PARTY TESTING BENEFITS. Radios with 3GPP specs on one side and O-RAN specs on the other will work with different vendors’ baseband and because there is a defined specification with 3GPP interfaces, the elements can be tested independently. It takes pressure off operators to test in their own labs. Radios can be purchased from any vendor and tested by independently by a 3rd party and be assured that it works. Soon radios will be produced at low cost on the basis that any operator can buy them and not get locked into a specific system integrator.
Mavenir Open RAN Solutions
Mavenir has created the world’s first fully containerized, virtualized OpenRAN Split 7.2 architecture. The solution provides the flexibility to deploy vRAN in a public or private while supporting radios from different vendors on open interfaces.
Mavenir’s award-winning OpenRAN vRAN solution provides the flexibility to support all network deployments, including private and public cloud, and multi-generational use cases in cloud-native architecture. Providers can realize quick time to market with customized features using Mavenir’s 100% software-based solution. TCO can be optimized with reduced Capex/Opex resulting in a near 40% savings in five years by leveraging web-scale economics, expanded supply chains, and COTS hardware.
Mavenir RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC)
Mavenir’s RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) helps manage multi-vendor RAN components and enables operators to proactively manage their network resources to automate processes, mitigate service degradation and keep the quality of experience high for their subscribers. The non-RT RIC is a containerized application that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to optimize network performance and train machine learning models using long-term RAN data for dynamic and adaptive policy and control. The near RT RIC application hosts trained AI/ML applications to infer and control O-RAN elements in near-real time and supports such functions such as traffic steering, slice SLA management, mMIMO Beam forming optimization, and industry specific use cases.
Open RAN Evolution Adding 2G/3G Across a Single Unified RAN to Support ‘Multi-G’ Radio Access
Mavenir has established a Centre of Innovation in Cambridge, United Kingdom. The Centre will focus on Mavenir’s innovative and open virtualized Multi Radio Access Technology (vMRAT) development and specifically on the integration of the 2G and 3G capabilities, giving the industry a unique solution for MRAT OpenRAN which is completely built on virtualized architecture, fully containerized and integrates all the ‘multi-G’ cellular stacks from 2G to 5G. The solution will feature the ability to scale and utilize a single architecture to cover all mobile technologies, giving the advantage of an extremely agile and flexible configuration for even faster time to market and for remote operations of the radio access network.
Mavenir Open RAN Partner Ecosystem
The OpenRAN Partner Ecosystem provides more options and makes it easy for operators to deploy an innovative, flexible Cloud-based OpenRAN solution. We act as the End-to-End systems integrator simplifying the engagement for operators and creating an offering that is on par with the traditional, hardware-centric proprietary vendors. Open interfaces are in the best interest of the CSPs and the overall industry. The formation of this ecosystem creates a challenger to the traditional radio vendors. Other companies are encouraged to support this effort, which will result in a game-changer, as operators continue to seek a new economic model in a world where a traditional, hardware-based approach is no longer a viable option.
Open RAN Partners
Mavenir Open RAN Services
The growing momentum for OpenRAN solutions is driving the demand from mobile operators for vendors to provide an end to end OpenRAN service ecosystem to design, build, optimize and maintain these networks.
Mavenir’s deep experience in OpenRAN technology solutions and end-to-end networks, coupled with leading partners in supply chain management, system integration, and field installation, will provide customers a full complement of solutions and services. Mavenir offers seamless integration of all RAN components (Mavenir and 3rd party) with core solutions to create a complete customer network.
Launching Evenstar to Accelerate OpenRAN Adoption
As a founding member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Mavenir works closely with the TIP community to improve the infrastructure for global networks. Together with partners Microelectronic Technology Inc. (MTI) and in collaboration with Facebook Connectivity, Mavenir has launched the Evenstar B3 Remote Radio Head Units (RRU), which will give mobile network operators the ability to accelerate the adoption of OpenRAN technology.
The Evenstar program will focus on building general-purpose radio access network (RAN) reference designs for 4G/5G networks in the Open RAN ecosystem that are aligned with 3GPP and O-RAN specifications.
The Evenstar B3 RRH is generally available now, with plans to expand into other Open RAN architectural elements. The Evenstar program will eventually include multiple RRH product SKUs, including FDD B3 (4T4R 4X40W). The RRH architecture is based on O-RAN Alliance Fronthaul specifications based on Split 7.2.
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