AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DOCOMO, and Orange have jointly announced the creation of the ORAN Alliance.
The ORAN Alliance is a worldwide, carrier-led effort to drive new levels of openness in the radio access network of next generation wireless systems. ORAN will combine and extend the efforts of the C-RAN Alliance and the xRAN Forum into a single operator led effort.
The Alliance members note that, as mobile traffic increases, mobile networks and the equipment that runs them must become more energy efficient (green), software-driven (soft), virtualised, flexible, and intelligent. The ORAN (Open Radio Access Network) Alliance is committed to evolving radio access networks— making them more open and smarter than previous generations. Real-time analytics that drive embedded machine learning systems and artificial intelligence back-end modules will empower network intelligence. Additional virtualised network elements with open, standardised interfaces will be key aspects of the reference designs developed by the ORAN Alliance. Technologies from open source and open whitebox network elements will be important software and hardware components of these reference designs.By combining and extending the objectives of the C-RAN Alliance and the xRAN Forum, the key principles of the ORAN Alliance include:
-Leading the industry towards open, interoperable interfaces, RAN virtualisation, and big data enabled RAN intelligence
-Maximising the use of common-off-the-shelf hardware and merchant silicon and minimising proprietary hardware
-Specifying APIs and interfaces, driving standards to adopt them as appropriate, and exploring open source where appropriate.
“ORAN represents a comprehensive embodiment of Communication 4.0 and is empowered by the true Information, Communications and Data Technology (ICDT) convergence,” said Zhengmao Li, CTO of China Mobile. “It will drive the radio access network from Green and Soft to Open and Smart. And ultimately operators will expect future networks to be built with deeply embedded intelligence, much higher efficiency, lower cost, great agility and flexibility, and all at manageable complexity.”
“5G is expected to facilitate the creation of new vertical markets, the speed of which will be accelerated by the high flexibility and high intelligence derived from open APIs and interfaces,” continued Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, EVP and CTO of NTT DOCOMO. “We have experienced that openness can provide opportunities for expanding markets. We believe that ORAN will evolve open and cost effective radio access networks and that it will further advance them into the next stage.”