Ericsson Focuses On vRAN With Hybrid Physical/Virtual Open Lab


By Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief

In support of the broad industry move toward cloud-based radio access networks running on commodity hardware, Ericsson and a number of operator and other partners announced the launch of the Ericsson Open Lab in Ottawa, Canada.

Operators involved include KDDI, Ooredoo, Orange, SoftBank, and Turkcell. Other technology partners listed by Ericsson are Intel, NVIDIA, Red Hat, and Wind River. The lab is accessible both physically and virtually.

In a statement, Ericsson EVP and Head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling described the goal as “develop[ing]architectures and common operating standards that complement existing 5G ready technology. This initiative will help to test the limits of 5G connectivity, working closely with operators and enterprise customers globally, as the industry continues to adopt more open architectures.”

Ericsson has a Cloud RAN software solution that’s fully compatible with its radio portfolio. The company also works within the O-RAN Alliance which develops specifications for opening radio interfaces to allow operators to deploy multi-vendor radio systems with virtualized and cloud-native network functions running on COTS hardware.

Orange, along with other major European-based operators Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone, in January signed a memorandum of understanding expressing their commitment to deploy Open RAN systems in their networks.

Orange SVP of Radio Networks Arnaud Vamparys said in a statement, “In the Open RAN journey, interoperability, cloudification and automation are key topics for Orange. The collaboration with Ericsson, as part of the Open Lab initiative, is allowing us to explore new flexible and innovative technologies like Cloud RAN on COTS hardware for mobile network evolution.”

Vamparys joined Rakuten’s Azita Arvani during RCR Wireless News‘ 5G Transformation Forum to discuss some of their key learnings and ambitions around Open RAN as a vector of network transformation.

In addition to the focus on Cloud RAN, Ericsson Open Lab users will also work on machine learning, network automation, and optimization, according to the vendor. The lab is co-located with an R&D site; there’s 100 megahertz of indoor mid-band spectrum and 60 megahertz of indoor/outdoor mid-band available for testing purposes.

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