Whilst some companies within the networking industry continue to eschew the O-RAN Alliance, most notably Huawei, which may not be surprising given the company’s current reputation outside of China, others are creating new partnerships.
Last year, two of the O-RAN Alliance’s founder members, AT&T and Nokia cemented one such partnership, announcing a collaboration to co-develop a new network element, which they have called the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) platform. And today, the two companies have announced the completion of a successful trial of the RIC software platform, conducted over AT&T’s commercial 5G mmWave network in New York City.
“We are excited about the success achieved by the joint AT&T and Nokia team in proving out the RIC over AT&T's 5G network in such a great city,” said Michael Clever, Head of Edge Cloud Platforms at Nokia. “This represents a major milestone toward the advancement of RAN network intelligence, openness and programmability, with the ultimate goal of improving wireless networks efficiency and end user experience.”
Openness and collaboration
For the recent trial, AT&T and Nokia ran a series of external applications, called ‘xApps’, at the edge of AT&T’s live 5G mmWave network, on an Akraino-based Open Cloud Platform. And these xApps are used to control aspects of the 4G and 5G radio network, much faster than is currently possible.
“This successful trial is a testament to what we can achieve through openness and collaboration,” said Mazin Gilbert, VP of Technology and Innovation at AT&T. “Together with the O-RAN Alliance, AT&T and Nokia will continue to develop and contribute to the E2 interface and the RIC platform to help enable an intelligent and flexible 5G network.”
Ultimately, according to AT&T and Nokia, the trial achieved its test goals. Both companies tested the RAN E2 interface and xApp management and control, collected live network data using the Measurement Campaign xApp, the neighbor relation management using Automated Neighbor Relation (ANR) xApp, and tested RAN control via the Admission Control xApp – all with zero interruption to the live commercial network.
Following this successful trial, the intent is to create open interfaces and an open ecosystem of interoperable components that will enable rapid, flexible service deployments and programmability within the RAN, and developers can access the RIC software is available at the O-RAN Software Community page now.