Vodafone Teams for 5G Open RAN RIC Milestone
June 4, 2021
Cohere Technologies, VMware, Capgemini Engineering, Intel and Telecom
Infra Project (TIP) have successfully demonstrated how a powerful new
Open Radio Access Network (RAN) platform can further boost the capacity
of 5G where multiple customers are using the same site. The successful
trial is the latest step in building a cost-effective Open RAN ecosystem
that will benefit Vodafone customers.
In a test laboratory, the companies increased the capacity of a 5G cell
site by two-fold using a programmable, Artificial Intelligence
(AI)-based RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) supporting a mix of Open RAN
components from multiple vendors. This collaboration represents a key
milestone in demonstrating the potential of RIC sitting at the heart of
an Open RAN installation.
The companies showed the first demonstration of 5G Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO)
– providing more capacity at a single cell site – running on a RIC
located at a multi-vendor Open RAN test site. MU-MIMO apportions ample
bandwidth to individual users connected to the same mobile site and is
considered the pivotal technique to boost cell capacity in future 5G
networks. It is a major development in supporting the insatiable demand
for faster and more responsive digital connections to deliver high
definition graphics, virtual reality, cloud and IT applications.
Based on the performance of Cohere’s Spectrum Multiplier MU-MIMO
scheduler in the trial, when the technique is commercially deployed in a
low-band (e.g. 700MHz) network, users will benefit from up to 2x the
capacity achieved using traditional MIMO. This software can be extended
to Massive MIMO in mid-band (e.g. 3.5GHz) networks in order to push
capacity gains towards 4-5x.
RAN is considered the future of networking. With Open RAN, mobile base
stations can be built using hardware and software from multiple vendors,
rather than just one or two suppliers. Driven by software, it means it
is easier and cheaper to extend mobile networks and carry out upgrades
without replacing hardware.
The new system tested by the companies reduces the need for expensive
and energy-consuming hardware within a mobile base station by up to a
third. It also supports new advanced radio applications for critical
business and consumer applications.
The RIC architecture, which is standardised by the O-RAN ALLIANCE, is
fundamental in creating an open framework designed to further improve
the cost-effectiveness of Open RAN, as well as expanding supply chain
diversity, and promoting innovation. Open RAN splits or separates the
radio functions of a mobile mast which means the hardware that manages
the radio functions at the cell site can be reduced. At the same time,
Open APIs will facilitate the integration of third-party applications
allowing a diverse set of vendors to contribute with new products and