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Network Transformation - Driven by Disaggregation


The initiative will establish multiple testing centers to validate that Open RAN component elements and solutions are compliant and interoperable.

For broadband access disaggregation, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a key ecosystem driver. One of the organization’s newer initiatives is the SDN Enabled Broadband Access Initiative, also known as SEBA™. Radisys has been collaborating with ONF and its service provider and vendor community to advance SEBA, which enables broadband service providers to use mature open source software like ONOS™ (Open Network Operating System) and bare metal hardware to reduce costs and accelerate time-to-market. The ONF ecosystem is also supporting the Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA™) open source project, which focuses on hardware abstraction for broadband access equipment. 

In November 2019, ONF and TIP announced further collaboration in the areas of mobile and fixed access, with ONF focused on open software and TIP focused on open hardware. Under this collaboration for the fixed access domain, ONF and TIP are working together to add mmWave as an access option to the SEBA platform. For mobile operators’ 5G networks, the two organizations are working on pairing ONF’s software with white-box hardware defined by TIP. 

Bringing It All Together: Systems Integrators Play Key Role

When a network is disaggregated and open, the software and hardware are separated, and best-of-breed solutions can be used. However, these new open multi-vendor components need to be brought back together and integrated as a commercially deployable end-to-end network. Mobile operators and broadband service providers may not have this systems integration expertise in-house, as they have long been reliant on single-source vendors. This reality opens the door for new market entrants—systems integrators—and new business models.  

Systems integrators have a huge part to play in network transformation, as they can deliver pre-integrated, pre-validated solutions. By taking responsibility for integrating open software and white-box hardware and delivering a complete end-to-end solution, systems integrators are critical. Their role in the ecosystem allows mobile operators and broadband service providers to reap the benefits of disaggregated components without having to strike deals with multiple vendors—and have the peace of mind that their network will work.

Making Open and Disaggregated Solutions a Commercial Reality

Ensuring interoperability is critical for a multi-vendor ecosystem to be commercially viable and deployable. Operators are committed to disaggregation, as shown by their support and active participation in the various open ecosystems outlined above.

China Mobile and Reliance Jio have taken this commitment to the next level with the launch of the OTIC (Open Test and Integration Center) initiative, with additional support from China Telecom, China Unicom, Intel, Radisys, Airspan, Baicells, CertusNet, Mavenir, Lenovo, Ruijie Network, Inspur, Samsung Electronics, Sylincom, WindRiver, ArrayComm, and Chengdu NTS. OTIC is focused on facilitating product readiness and interoperability for next-generation 5G wireless networks based on the O-RAN Alliance architecture, specifications, and interfaces.

The initiative will establish multiple testing centers to validate that Open RAN component elements and solutions are compliant and interoperable. Each testing and validation facility will be sponsored by a mobile operator, with the initial OTICs to be hosted by China Mobile in Beijing and by Reliance Jio. The OTIC initiative is not formally associated with the O-RAN Alliance, but its overlapping membership has a shared vision to accelerate disaggregation and the Open RAN ecosystem. By testing and validating their products at an OTIC facility, solution providers can reliably demonstrate to the industry that their solutions are O-RAN compliant and interoperable. Mobile operators can have confidence that these solutions will work in a live network deployment.  

The Telecom Infra Project has also established community labs with the goal to further the development and deployment of Open RAN 5G NR solutions. TIP projects can use the community labs to develop proof of concepts and test service provider use cases.

Summary

Disaggregation is a central tenet of the network transformation underway today in mobile and broadband networks. It is being driven by all players in the global telecom industry, from mobile operators and broadband service providers to the vendor community and system integrators.

By embracing disaggregation and an open ecosystem of hardware and software, service providers can reap the benefits of reduced costs, improved efficiencies, increased flexibility and accelerated time-to-market, all while ensuring their networks can scale to support future traffic growth on their networks.



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