VMware, Inc. and Deutsche Telekom announced the companies are collaborating on an open and intelligent virtual RAN (vRAN) platform, based on O-RAN standards, to bring agility to radio access networks (RANs) for both existing LTE and future 5G networks.
The solution, architected by VMware and Intel and based on Intel’s FlexRAN architecture, is planned to undergo testing and validation at Deutsche Telekom’s Bonn, Germany, headquarters.
While the majority of network modernization efforts start with virtualization of the core network, service providers are beginning to set their sights on realizing the benefits of end-to-end network transformation and are working to virtualize all parts of their network, including the RAN. Moving to an open vRAN helps create a more innovative RAN environment that introduces cloud economics in the radio access network environment – an essential component to delivering apps and services over a 5G network.
“As the traditional RAN becomes the open RAN, we need to accelerate the development of scalable high-performance open RAN solutions. Our work with VMware and Intel aims to address scalability and related economics for vRAN macro layer deployment,” says Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation (STI), Deutsche Telekom. “Going forward, we plan to work with the open RAN vendor ecosystem to accelerate commercial availability of solutions.”
The Open RAN solution architecture leverages standards-based Intel processors and FlexRAN, a vRAN software reference platform, to run vRAN workloads on top of VMware’s telco cloud platform, optimized for real-time and low latency workloads. The solution will also feature a VMware-developed pre-standard, near-real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) that will adopt O-RAN open interfaces with required enhancements to enable real-time radio resource management capabilities to be delivered as applications on top of the platform. VMware, Deutsche Telekom and Intel are collaborating with an open partner ecosystem to develop this solution, and key initial partners include Cohere Technologies and Mavenir.
“This solution brings the promise of RAN to the forefront for today’s LTE networks and tomorrow’s 5G networks,” said Shekar Ayyar, executive vice president and general manager, Telco and Edge Cloud, VMware. “In a 5G world, the RAN needs to become software-defined in order to meet the needs of CSPs, and what we’re proposing with this open and intelligent vRAN platform will do exactly that.”
“Virtualizing the RAN is an important step in the 5G future that will enable innovative services at the edge. Through this collaboration we aim to demonstrate how standards-based hardware and software can accelerate new types of network deployments,” explained Cristina Rodriguez, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Wireless Access Network Division.