AT&T working with Nokia on open source O-RAN architecture for 5G
- AT&T and Nokia co-creating open source platform code for the 5G RAN
- Developing a software platform for the RAN Intelligent Controller
- Aligned with the O-RAN target architecture
- The platform will feature an extensible real-time microservices framework
AT&T has been attracting a lot of media coverage these past few days, for all the wrong reasons. The decision by its marketing team to pre-emptively use 5G as a consumer brand for 4G services was met by huge derision (including, as expected from rival US service providers). Not that it appears fazed, as the whole 5G Evolution campaign was started over a year ago, and the telco does have history with similar hijinks around 4G and LTE. However, there’s plenty more to AT&T than just mobile marketing.
Yesterday it announced that it was working with Nokia to accelerate the deployment of open source software in the radio access network (RAN), and that they will jointly contribute code to the O-RAN Alliance in support of 5G. AT&T will begin 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.
The driving factor here is to expand the vendor ecosystem, using open source to encourage a wider cross-section of companies to contribute solutions – hopefully at a lower price point than the incumbent vendors have offered previously. This will give rise to the fabled “multi-vendor open ecosystem” of interoperable components for the envisaged future disaggregated RAN, with policy-driven automation and programmability, etc.
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.
“We continue to look for opportunities to drive open platforms and open interfaces in the community,” said Mazin Gilbert, VP of advanced technology and systems at AT&T Labs.
AT&T also mentioned that it will increase its engagement in the Akraino Edge Stack Linux Foundation Networking project. Again, working with Nokia, it has signed a multiyear co- development agreement with its vendor partner to expand Akraino capabilities to support the needs of the RIC and other virtualized edge cloud platform deployments.
Original Press Release:
AT&T and Nokia Accelerate the Deployment of RAN Open Source
DALLAS, January 08, 2019: The companies contribute code to provide open access to 5G under the O-RAN Alliance
In support of 5G, AT&T* will begin 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.
The RIC platform will provide a set of functions and interfaces that allow for increased optimizations through policy-driven closed loop automation and for faster, more flexible service deployments and programmability within the RAN. The intent is to enable an intelligent rapidly evolvable radio network by fostering the creation of a multi-vendor open ecosystem of interoperable components for the disaggregated 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.”
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. This will allow implementations of these functions, sourced from multiple vendors, to 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.
To further support the company’s 5G initiatives, AT&T will 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. This work will support the growing need for virtualized edge environments of various sizes, deployment locations and capabilities.
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