NEC, NTT DOCOMO to develop RIC for advanced operations of Open RAN

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NEC Corporation has announced the joint development of RAN Intelligent Controllers (RIC) with NTT DOCOMO, INC. (DOCOMO) in support of intelligent Radio Access Networks (RAN). The two companies are aiming to reduce RAN operational costs, improve performance, and reduce power consumption through the use of RIC.

Equipment conforming to O-RAN Fronthaul Interface Specifications
(Note 1) enables interoperability with different vendors’ products as
well as the deployment of an optimal and flexible network that meets the needs of various use cases and network technology requirements.

Furthermore, the introduction of RIC utilizing AI allows more
sophisticated and efficient control of networks.

Both companies plan to initiate joint development of RIC mainly aimed at reducing the operating costs of RAN, such as automating base station settings. As a next step, the companies will improve the
performance of RAN through measures that include reducing the power consumption of network equipment by automatically and autonomously optimizing radio resources.

In the future, the RIC control cycle will be advanced from slow
control to fast control, and from the base station unit level to a
user-based level of control. At the same time, optimization will be
performed in conjunction with the control of different elements, such
as radio resources and computing resources. Moreover, the companies aim to create new value by optimizing network characteristics, such as ultra-high-speed, large-capacity, ultra-low latency, high reliability, and multiple simultaneous connections to realize a variety of services through upgraded networks.

NEC’s subsidiary, Netcracker, provides an Open RAN Domain
Orchestration solution aligned with the O-RAN Alliance Service
Management and Orchestration framework, including RIC functionality developed by Netcracker.

The solution is based on Netcracker’s Digital OSS (operations support system), built from its wealth of experience domestically and internationally, and brings together the orchestration, real-time OSS, and advanced analytics required to fully automate RAN domain operations, from planning and design, to activation, monitoring, and optimization. With end-to-end visualization and optimization, the solution maximizes RAN performance and improves business KPIs for service providers.

Since 2018, NEC and DOCOMO have been working jointly to verify and test Open RAN technologies and promote their use. In June 2020, NTT and NEC entered into a capital and business alliance with the aim of developing and selling new internationally competitive products for 5G and beyond, including further accelerating the penetration of Open RAN specifications.

NEC and Netcracker will continue to develop RIC in collaboration with
DOCOMO in order to enable intelligent functionalities for accommodating various 5G use cases. Furthermore, the companies aim to promote innovation in support of an ecosystem that solves social issues through deployment of diverse 5G Open RAN solutions throughout the world. This includes intelligent solutions utilizing and
integrating the technologies and expertise related to networking and
AI owned by each company.