- This year’s O-RAN Alliance Plugfest was held in seven locations
- 94 companies took part in the Open RAN tests, some of them in multiple locations
- Asia was the hotbed of activity, with venues in four countries
- Alliance COO Alex Choi highlights the diversity of the participants
An increasing number of companies are getting involved in the development of Open RAN as the architectural approach, based on open non-proprietary interfaces, gains traction with the world’s network operator community – that’s the key takeaway from this year’s O-RAN Alliance Plugfest, its third international test and integration event, which attracted 94 companies to get involved in seven venues/projects across the world (up from four in 2020).
Some of those 94 participated in multiple locations, resulting in 144 “active corporate participants” across the multiple venues, up from 70 the previous year.
What’s particularly encouraging for the network operators that are keen to see their technology supply chain diversified is not only the number of major companies involved from the vendor community, but also the number of specialist companies willing to spend previous resources (time, effort, funds) on a development that, ultimately, may or may not revamp the radio access network world and open up new business opportunities (it’s too early still to tell just how widely Open RAN architectures will be deployed and by how miuch it will diversify the supply chain).
But it’s worth giving a namecheck to those specialists, which include Accelleran, Advantech, Aethertek, AirHop Communications, Alpha Networks, AMI, Arcadyan, ASOCS, Calnex, Casa Systems, CIG, Comba Network, Compal, Delta Electronics, DZS, EANTC, highstreet technologies, iConnext, Inventec, IP Infusion, IS-Wireless, ITRI, JMA Wireless, JPC connectivity, Lions Technology, Liteon, Metanoia Communications, MICAS, MiTAC, MTI, NKG, O'Prueba, Pegatron, Precision OT, QCT, Rohde & Schwarz, Sageran, Sercomm, STL, VVDN, Wiwynn, and WNC.
“The expanded and diverse participation of companies from across the technology ecosystem at the O-RAN Global PlugFest 2021 is testimony to growing momentum behind Open RAN and its relevance for our industry,” noted Alex Jinsung Choi, Chief Operating Officer of the O-RAN ALLIANCE and SVP of Strategy and Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom (pictured above). “The joint, open and coordinated O-RAN Global PlugFest framework is crucial for all O-RAN members to collaborate within the community and accelerate the ecosystem development of commercially available Open RAN solutions.”
Asia was a hotbed of activity, with labs busy in four countries – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India.
Japan was particularly busy, with four operators – NTT DOCOMO, KDDI, Rakuten Mobile and SoftBank – and research park YRP hosting labs in the Tokyo area and Yokosuka.
For example, DOCOMO undertook interoperability testing with Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung products in its Yokosuka lab, and tested multi-vendor virtual RAN with Fujitsu (vCU/vDU software and COTS server), NVIDIA (HW accelerator: GPU) and Wind River (cloud platform).
And Rakuten Mobile conducted fronthaul multi-vendor interoperability verification tests with NEC (radio unit and core) and Altiostar (distributed and centralized units), performed 3GPP RF conformance tests with Keysight Technologies and NEC, and worked with Viavi and HCL on a demonstration of rApp ‘Outage Impact Compensation’ with RAN Optimization xApps working on the latest O-RAN Software Community RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller) stack, “enabling RAN self-healing and optimization,” according to the Alliance.
The full details of who did what across all of the labs can be found in this blog.
Interesting to note, though, that the Plugfest activity in Europe was hosted not only by the major operators that are championing Open RAN, but also by research university Skoltech (Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology) in Moscow, Russia, which hosts a 5G Open RAN lab. Its activities focused on "3GPP compliance validation for O-RU and on end-to-end integration of O-RAN 5G gNB with commercial 5G core."
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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