Mavenir, Cohere partnership hints at potential of the RIC

  • Mavenir has developed a RAN intelligent controller (RIC) platform from Open RAN deployments
  • It is designed to run multiple applications from Open RAN-compliant developers to enhance network optimisation and end-user experience
  • Cohere Technologies has a spectrum multiplier application that can run on RIC platforms
  • The two companies have teamed up in a move that hints at the innovative potential of the RIC

Only days after unveiling its RAN intelligent controller (RIC) platform, Open RAN cheerleader Mavenir has teamed up with high-flying mobile network optimisation specialist Cohere Technologies to plug the latter’s Universal Spectrum Multiplier (USM) software into its open platform in a move that hints at the multivendor potential that Open RAN architectures might just be able to offer network operators.

The RIC is regarded by many as the ‘brain’ of an Open RAN architecture, as it is the open operating system that can run multiple applications used to monitor and control radio access networks. It comes in two versions: The near-real time RIC, which is for critical, fast-response, low-latency, network-control applications (xApps) that require response times of between 10 milliseconds and 1 second, such as beamforming; and the non-real time RIC, which will run applications (rApps) that are responsible for actions that take more than 1 second, such as subscriber data management, quality of experience monitoring and so on. 

Mavenir last week unveiled its platform, dubbed the O-RIC, complete with a near-real time and non-real time version, and noted that it is already in deployment with two Tier 1 telcos (that have not been identified) – see Mavenir unveils its RIC, boasts Open RAN sales growth.

Now Mavenir and Cohere have teamed up to offer the latter’s USM application as an xApp running on Mavenir’s near-real time O-RIC. 

And this is what is important for the industry about this development, as it hints at the potential for innovative applications from third-party developers to be integrated and run on an open network controller. Mavenir for sure will have its own xApps and rApps, but what will interest and excite network operators is the ‘best-of-breed’ multivendor promise of such a platform. (And, of course, the relationship is not exclusive: Cohere has been working for some time to have its USM software run as an xApp on VMware’s RIC.)

And Cohere’s USM software is attracting increasing attention from the operator community: It recently announced a trial with (and investment from ) Bell Canada, is being closely monitored by Vodafone, and claims to have trials with multiple other major network operators – see Bell Canada backs Open RAN hopeful Cohere Technologies.

The attraction? Cohere claims its USM software can boost the capacity of mobile network cells by 100% and has just unveiled a new automated antenna management tool called Dynamic Network Alignment (DNA) that, the Cohere team claims, fills a gap in the radio access network (RAN) sector – see Cohere adds DNA to its product family and signs Wibergh to its board.

As has been pointed out by respected industry analyst Gabriel Brown, senior principal analyst of mobile networks at Heavy Reading, that one of Cohere’s challenges will be to build relationships with technology partners that can act as a channel to market for the technology minnow, and Cohere, naturally, will be hoping that the agreement with Mavenir will be the first of many. 

And with Mavenir’s traction in the Open RAN market growing, this is a good place for the companies to start with their respective multivendor engagement efforts. 

“This is a true win-win partnership, and we are excited to work with Mavenir to accelerate the creation of a truly open, highly differentiated, scalable solution for operators that will enable continued revenue growth and profitability,” noted Cohere chairman and CEO Ray Dolan in the announcement about the collaboration. “Mavenir’s success to date with operators provides a solid foundation for Cohere to integrate our Universal Spectrum Multiplier with their 4G and 5G solutions, while creating a smooth path forward to OTFS [orthogonal time frequency space, a candidate 6G technology].” 

While the relationship is certainly interesting, and Mavenir claims to have RIC deployments with operators already, the industry consensus is that there is still plenty of work to be done on the development of app onboarding processes and RIC interface specifications by the likes of the O-RAN Alliance, and that it is likely that RIC platforms will make an impact on telco operations from 2024 at the earliest. (The RIC is the focus of TelecomTV’s next episode of The Open RAN Show, which will be streamed, then made available on demand, on Friday 24 February.)

And while the partnership makes absolute sense, it should be noted that Mavenir and Cohere are, in some ways, sister companies, as they have both been backed by the same investment firm, Koch Strategic Platforms – that relationship will have helped bring the companies together.  

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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