Keysight to Help Develop an Open RAN Architecture for 5G Networks

Keysight has signed a collaboration agreement with fellow O-RAN Alliance members AT&TAnokiwaveBall Corporation and Xilinx. Under the agreement, the companies will be accelerating development of 5G networks using an open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture to increase flexibility for service providers.

Open, standards-based network architectures with interoperable interfaces and off-the-shelf components enable mobile operators to address a diverse set of demands in support of new vertical market revenue opportunities. These opportunities are driven by smart cities, industrial automation, and connected cars among other vertical industries. The O-RAN Alliance was formed in early 2018 and includes many of the world’s leading mobile operators and manufacturers of wireless equipment. Its members are committed to creating an industry standard that will accelerate the development of 5G networks based on an open RAN architecture.

The multi-party collaboration has already resulted in a key industry milestone. The parties will showcase the first O-RAN 5G mmWave radio unit (O-RU) white box demonstration at Xilinx’s booth 6M30 in Hall 6 at Mobile World Congress 2019 (MWC19), taking place on February 25-28, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. The live demonstration combines essential building blocks to create and test a blueprint for next generation RAN.

According to Andre Fuetsch, President AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, the achievement within O-RAN is exciting because it proves that a radio unit can be built on an open architecture platform. Since the demo unit shown at MWC is built with commercial off-the-shelf components, it’s a promising next step to deliver the flexibility for building networks– especially when the mobile 5G deployment era begins.

According to Rob Freedman, Vice President and General Manager, Tactical Solutions, Ball Aerospace, a business of Ball Corporation, his team’s white box proof of concept demonstrates that an open architecture remote radio unit can be built with commercial off-the-shelf components. As the integrator of the O-RU demonstration, Ball Aerospace is leveraging the system solution heritage to bring together enabling phased array antenna technology combined with commercially available components, which will enable operators to rapidly innovate their service offerings.

Operators are facing multiple challenges with 5G deployments such as time to market, differentiation, multi-vendor systems environment, programmability and adaptability to face new services and new standard features. The O-RAN group clearly focuses on optimizing the interfaces for functions/space/power/cost to overcome the challenges operators are facing.