NEC unveils expanded lineup of 5G base stations using O-RAN specifications

TOKYO, JAPAN, September 30, 2020 — NTT DOCOMO, INC. and NEC Corporation announced today that they have expanded multi-vendor interoperability by interconnecting a new 5G base station baseband unit (5G-CU/DU), developed by NEC and Samsung Electronics and compliant with O-RAN Alliance* specifications, with 5G base station remote radio units (5G-RUs) of other vendors on DOCOMO's commercial network.

Expanding multi-vendor interoperability based on O-RAN open interface specifications will enable the most appropriate base stations to be used depending on deployment scenarios and taking advantage of specific vendor and equipment characteristics. This will drive the rapid and flexible development of 5G service areas.

The new 5G base station baseband unit from NEC realizes multi-vendor interoperability and is the result of a partnership between NEC and Samsung. It is interoperable with all existing vendors' 5G base station remote units in DOCOMO's network owing to its adoption of O-RAN open fronthaul specifications; it is also compatible with all existing 4G base stations in DOCOMO's network thanks to its adoption of O-RAN open X2 specifications.

Multi-vendor interoperability using O-RAN open fronthaul specifications was also confirmed for NEC's macro-cell 5G-RU, which provides wide area coverage, and for NEC's fronthaul multiplexer (5G-FHM), which copies and combines the fronthaul signals to and from multiple 5G-RUs to form a single area; both are new 5G base station equipment offerings.

During their collaboration, DOCOMO selected the test items, executed the multi-vendor interoperability tests and analyzed the results; NEC and Samsung Electronics supplied the 5G base station equipment and analyzed the test results.

Naoki Tani, Senior Vice President of DOCOMO, said: “The widespread adoption of O-RAN-compliant products will enable DOCOMO to build highly flexible networks and provide 5G services that meet customer needs. The realization of multi-vendor interoperability with this new equipment developed by NEC and Samsung Electronics represents a significant step in the expansion of the O-RAN ecosystem. DOCOMO will continue to work with industry partners to promote open RAN and 5G services."

Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President at NEC and President of the company's Network Services Business Unit, said: “We are very pleased to have cooperated with Samsung Electronics in developing an O-RAN-compliant 5G base station that enables multi-vendor interoperability. NEC will utilize the O-RAN know-how acquired in this initiative to continue contributing to DOCOMO's 5G network and the expansion of 5G networks worldwide."

Satoshi Iwao, Vice President and Head of Network Division at Samsung Electronics Japan, said: “We are glad to collaborate with DOCOMO and NEC to deliver our 5G network solutions and support O-RAN interoperability. Through this collaboration, we look forward to taking part in the 5G transformation and bringing 5G closer to users in Japan."

The achievements were presented between September 25 and 30 during the O-RAN Plugfest web conferences organized by the O-RAN Alliance. Plugfest was held concurrently in Japan, China, India, Europe and North America, facilitating proofs of concept and interoperability tests of O-RAN products and solutions.

Going forward, DOCOMO, NEC and Samsung will continue testing 5G base station equipment and communication systems scheduled for use in DOCOMO's 5G commercial network, aiming to expand area coverage and achieve ultra-stable network connections.

  • The O-RAN Alliance is an international industry group working to create more open and intelligent radio access networks, including 5G networks.
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