Operator Deutsche Telekom recently teamed up with AirHop, Juniper Networks, VIAVI Solutions, and VMware for a revolutionary trial. They tested non-real time RAN Intelligent Controller (Non-RT RIC) technology guided by Open RAN specifications. The evaluation was framed as an effort to advance the development of Open RAN technology.
Emphasizing their dedication to creating ‘programmable radio access networks,’ these industry leaders explored the potential of Non-RT RIC and rApp concept in automating and optimizing disaggregated RAN. A key highlight was a promising RAN closed-loop optimization proof of concept completed at a Deutsche Telekom’s lab. Interestingly, this multi-vendor setup hinged on ONAP and Open RAN specifications. A notable achievement was the culmination of the onboarding and deployment of closed-loop rApp algorithms on the partners’ Non-RT RIC.
Their journey led to two use case executions. One scenario played out a Physical Cell Identifier (PCI) optimization, driven to detect and resolve confusing and colliding ‘PCI scenarios.’ A second use case unfolded around the Energy Savings dynamic Multi-Carrier management (ESMC) fronted by artificial intelligence and machine learning models. Essentially, these sophisticated models were trained to find the optimum time to trigger or deactivate sleep-mode on capacity cells, a move that promised energy conservation yet sustained quality.
Upon reflection, they acknowledged the integration conflicts posed by multi-vendor frameworks. Nonetheless, their proof of concept affirmed that adopting SMO, Non-RT RIC, and rApp framework could herald a new era of disaggregated RAN optimization. The ability to decouple optimization algorithm development, the supporting platform development, and system integration paves the way for components from different parties to form a powerful RAN optimization concept.
Petr Ledl, VP, Head of Network Trials and Integration Lab, Deutsche Telekom, chimed in, stating, “Our primary focus is always on driving innovation to support the best customer experience. The RIC and rApps are key to programmability, automation, and optimization in radio access networks. From this successful trial, we will now continue the work with our ecosystem partners to accelerate Non-RT RIC/rApp development towards production readiness.”
While the trial details may seem complex, an insight into the goals and outcomes of this pioneering trial is accessible through an enlightening white paper.
However, the glimpses of Open RAN’s future are not all rosy. According to the latest data released by analyst firm Dell’Oro, both Open RAN and vRAN revenues took a dip for the first time in the second quarter of 2023. Should this downward trend endure, the growth figure for 2023 would likely be in the red.