BONN, Germany -- The O-RAN ALLIANCE, fulfilling its mission to transform Radio Access Networks to be open, intelligent, virtualized and fully interoperable, today announced that it has approved four new Open Testing and Integration Centres (OTIC) in North America. OTICs are vendor-independent, open, and qualified labs approved by the O-RAN ALLIANCE that issue awards in the O-RAN Certification and Badging Program, so that operators can deploy products at scale and with confidence.
North American OTIC in the Boston Area (Northeastern University)
The OTIC at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University promotes research, development, and testing of next-generation intelligent Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN). The OTIC within the Open6G hub is a resource for industry, academia, and government toward multi-vendor interoperability and validation of end-to-end control logic for programmable networks, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms. The OTIC provides testing equipment and services to validate disaggregated base stations and RAN Intelligent Controllers (RICs), including custom applications (i.e., xApps and rApps). Applications can be tested against different RAN implementations (including commercial and open-source stacks), in emulated or over-the-air environments. The OTIC platforms include Colosseum, the world’s largest wireless network emulator with hardware-in-the-loop, already showcased as a digital twin for multiple Open RAN tests and trials.
“Northeastern’s Open6G is at the forefront of innovation in Open RAN testing, architectures, algorithms, software, and experimentation. Together with our partners, we are creating an innovation and testing ecosystem that will continue to serve government, industry, and academia,” says Tommaso Melodia, Director of Northeastern University’s Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things.
North American OTIC in Central Iowa (ARA)
North American OTIC in Central Iowa (ARA) is hosted by the Center for Wireless, Communities, and Innovation (WiCI) at Iowa State University (ISU). It uses the newly deployed NSF funded ARA rural wireless platform and provides services for testing and integrating O-RAN technologies using state of the art wireless equipment and with the addition of agricultural and rural setting and equipment. To facilitate experimentation, ARA-OTIC has deployed multi-modal, long-distance, and high-capacity wireless x-haul platforms ranging from free space optical to mmWave and microwave bands, as well as advanced wireless access platforms such as low-UHF massive MIMO systems, software-defined-radio (SDR) and programmable commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) 5G systems, and open-source 5G-and-beyond software platforms to integrate modeling and simulation environments as well as management and decision systems. ARA-OITC is fully committed to promoting the openness of O-RAN in research and innovation by providing a unique platform.
“We believe ARA-OTIC offers a unique platform for testing O-RAN equipment and services that will bring wireless innovation to AgTech and other rural industries,” said Professor Hongwei Zhang, Director of North American OTIC in Central Iowa (ARA).
North American OTIC in Salt Lake City (POWDER)
North American OTIC in Salt Lake City (POWDER) supports end-to-end Open RAN testing in lab and field scenarios and has developed a Testing Orchestration and Testing Automation (TOTA) framework to provide streamlined, on-demand testing capabilities. OTIC services provided by POWDER include interoperability and end-to-end testing, badging and certification. The OTIC offers additional Open RAN related services including use case and proof-of-concept development and evaluation, functional testing in lab and field environments, and Open RAN intelligent ecosystem research, testing and development.
“We are very pleased with POWDER’s OTIC designation,” said Kobus Van der Merwe, Professor in the Kahlert School of Computing and Director of the POWDER platform and the North American OTIC in Salt Lake City (POWDER). “Being an OTIC will allow POWDER to provide 5G/6G and specifically Open RAN testing, development and certification services, and form the basis for continued collaborative research efforts with industry partners. POWDER’s automated testing and lab-as-a-service features and the fact that POWDER provides both indoor and outdoor facilities are unique capabilities in this domain.”
North American OTIC in Washington, DC/Arlington, VA
The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) xG Testbed at Virginia Tech, in partnership with AT&T, DISH Network, and Verizon, emphasizes programmability and interoperability, relying when possible on open interfaces and open-source software. Key capabilities include securing 5G and next-generation mobile networks, AI assurance, multi-vendor interoperability, conformance and performance testing, and an end-to-end intelligent RAN control-loop supported by an AI/ML framework. CCI’s OTIC features indoor and outdoor testing environments, which can validate disaggregated RAN components — O-RAN Centralized Unit (O-CU), O-RAN Distributed Unit (O-DU), O-RAN Radio Unit (O-RU) — Over-The-Air (OTA) across locations and transport networks. Researchers can test RAN components’ interaction with Radio Intelligent Controllers (RICs) and microservices/applications that are AI/ML-based (i.e., xApps and rApps). Related services include use case and proof-of-concept development and evaluation.
“The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative is committed to securing the next generation of wireless network technologies,” said Aloizio P. DaSilva, CCI xG Testbed director, North American OTIC in Washington, DC/Arlington, VA. “By conducting interoperability, conformance and performance tests as an OTIC site, we will identify and address key gaps, spurring innovation and early adoption in the wireless marketplace.”
“The O-RAN ALLIANCE welcomes four additional OTICs to North America, bringing the worldwide total to 15,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, Chairman of the Board, O-RAN ALLIANCE. “The essential function of OTICs to certify and badge products complements the work of our operator members and contributing vendors to continuously develop products and operationalize O-RAN specifications.”
About O-RAN ALLIANCE
The O-RAN ALLIANCE is a world-wide community of more than 300 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. As the RAN is an essential part of any mobile network, the O-RAN ALLIANCE’s mission is to re-shape the RAN industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN specifications enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN based mobile networks at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by mobile operators. To achieve this, the O-RAN ALLIANCE publishes new RAN specifications, releases open software for the RAN, and supports its members in integration and testing of their implementations.
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