Wednesday, January 9, 2019

AT&T and Nokia collaborate on open RAN platform

by James E. Carroll

AT&T and Nokia are collaborating on an open software platform under the ORAN Alliance to open up access to 5G radio access networks (RANs). The goal is faster, more flexible service deployments and programmability within a rapidly-evolvable RAN.  The ORAN Alliance aims to enable a multi-vendor open ecosystem of interoperable components for the disaggregated RAN.

AT&T said it is commencing development of a software platform for the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), to enable the creation of open source software that is aligned with the O-RAN target architecture. AT&T and Nokia are co-creating the platform code to accelerate the deployment of open source software for the 5G RAN.

“We’re delighted to work with Nokia on co-creating an open source implementation of the RIC platform to accelerate innovations and interoperability in the RAN,” said Mazin Gilbert, vice president of advanced technology and systems at AT&T Labs. “We continue to look for opportunities to drive open platforms and open interfaces in the community."

“Nokia is a strong proponent of RAN network openness and has been active in numerous open source communities, contributing code and defining open interface specifications,” said Mike Murphy, CTO for North America, Nokia. “We are excited to be partnering with AT&T to co-create RIC software and share with the open-source community to foster further collaboration and innovation.”

Some highlights:

  • The RIC platform will provide a set of functions and interfaces that allow for increased optimizations through policy-driven closed loop automation 
  • The platform will be architected in the form of an extensible real-time microservices framework coupled with a radio information database and key open control plane interfaces for mobility management, spectrum management, load balancing, radio resource control and RAN slicing to name a few.  
  • Implementations of these functions, sourced from multiple vendors, could be mixed and matched on a single network infrastructure. 


The platform will also enable interfaces to third-party applications for enhanced mobility functions such as cross layer optimization and machine learning inferences.

AT&T also plans to increase its engagement in Akraino Edge Stack, a Linux Foundation project focused on building production ready cloud infrastructure for edge deployment in open source. In particular, AT&T has also signed a multiyear co- development agreement with Nokia to further expand Akraino Edge Stack capabilities supporting the needs of the RIC and other edge cloud platform deployments.

O-RAN approves architecture, sets WGs, elects AT&T's Fuetsch as chair

The O-RAN Alliance has approved its overall O-RAN architecture plan and established an initial set of seven working groups to drive the work forward. These are:

WG1: Use Cases & Overall Architecture
WG2: Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) (non-Real Time) & A1 Interface
WG3: RIC (near-Real Time) & E2 Interface
WG4: Open Fronthaul (FH) Interface
WG5: Stack Reference Design and F1/V1/E1/X2
WG6: Cloudification and orchestration
WG7: White Box Hardware

At its recent meeting at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, the O-RAN Alliance also elected Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs, as chair of the Board. In addition, Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, was appointed as Operations Officer; and Bharti Airtel, China Telecom, KT, Singtel, SK telecom, Telefonica, and Telstra were approved as new Board members. This expands the number of Board Directors to 12.

Akraino Edge Stack advances as LF project

The Akraino Edge Stack project, which promises new levels of flexibility to scale edge cloud services quickly, has moved from formation into execution as a project hosted by The Linux Foundation.  The project originated inside AT&T.

New members of the Akraino project include Arm, AT&T, Dell EMC, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, inwinSTACK, Juniper Networks, Nokia, Qualcomm, Radisys, Red Hat, and Wind River.

Akraino Edge Stack seed code will be opened up to the community this week based on AT&T’s seed code, (the Network Cloud blueprint,) contributed to The Linux Foundation.

“Since forming earlier this year, the Akraino Edge Stack project has generated strong industry support and is now well-positioned to create blueprints optimized for various edge use cases,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking and Orchestration, The Linux Foundation. “We are pleased to welcome leading members with a broad swath of edge expertise and resources to collaborate on improving the state of open source edge software.”

“We welcome the new members to the Akraino Edge Stack project. As a community, we can expand the development of next gen zero-touch edge cloud infrastructure for carrier and enterprise networks, and foster a new ecosystem of applications that demand high performance, ultra-low latency and blazing speed,” said Mazin Gilbert, vice president of Advanced Technology & Systems, AT&T. “Embracing open interfaces and collaboration with edge computing will expedite new solutions and innovations for 5G services.”


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