Viavi Solutions (VIAVI) shared the company's role in the third annual global O-RAN plugfest hosted by Tier-1 communications service providers and the O-RAN ALLIANCE. The plugfest involved a series of on-site demonstrations across multiple countries, conducted in October and November 2021.
VIAVI was relied upon to provide benchmarking and validation for plugfest tests and demonstrations at locations including New Brunswick, USA, hosted by AT&T and Verizon with Rutgers University; Menlo Park, USA, hosted by AT&T and Verizon at the TIP Community Lab with Meta; Berlin, Germany, hosted by Deutsche Telekom; Madrid, Spain, hosted by Telefónica; Gurgaon, India, hosted by Airtel; Tokyo, Japan hosted by Yokosuka Research Park with participation from major service providers including Rakuten Mobile; and Taiwan hosted by Auray OTIC and Security Lab and Chunghwa Telecom.
This year's plugfest demonstrated the rapid evolution of the O-RAN ecosystem with an increasing focus on the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), which changes the way network resources are managed, bringing artificial intelligence and big data into day-to-day operations. To mitigate the risk involved in introducing this new technology, operators depended upon tools from VIAVI including the TeraVM RIC Test to test the performance of the RIC when presented with a wide range of RAN scenarios, to test the functionality of rApps and xApps, as well as provide the means to generate the data needed to train AI models.
The VIAVI Test Suite for O-RAN Specifications also supported conformance, performance, interoperability and end-to-end testing:
- Open Radio Unit (O-RU) and Open Distributed Unit (O-DU) – Casa Systems Apex 5G Evo Radio was validated using the VIAVI TM500 O-RU Tester in conjunction with the Rohde & Schwarz SMW200A Vector Signal Generator (VSG), FSW Signal and Spectrum Analyzer and Vector Signal Explorer (VSE) software. Performance testing of the Sercomm Small Cell O-RU/O-DU was conducted using the VIAVI TeraVM O-CU Simulator and TeraVM Core Emulator.
- Open Central Unit (O-CU) – Performance (load/scale) testing of the Accelleran O-CU installed on a cloud-native router was conducted using the VIAVI TeraVM O-CU Tester.
- Open Fronthaul (OFH) – OFH interoperability between Intel's FlexRAN reference software and Capgemini Engineering O-CU, O-DU and Core, with IP Infusion fronthaul switch as grandmaster clock, was validated using the VIAVI TM500 O-DU Tester and E500 UE Emulator. VIAVI also provided the T-BERD/MTS-5800 for Xhaul Transport and Synchronization testing on the Ciena 5164 and 5168 with a grandmaster, and on the Cisco NCS540.
- End-to-end interoperability testing of O-RU, O-DU and O-CU from major vendors was conducted with the VIAVI E500 UE Emulator and TeraVM Core Emulator. OFH and end-to-end interoperability were demonstrated between the TeraVM Core Emulator, a major vendor's O-RU, Capgemini O-DU/O-CU and commercial device.
- RIC – The TeraVM RIC Test was used to validate the Accelleran dRAX RIC and xApps, and the TCS RIC and traffic steering xApp. TeraVM RIC Test also supported a demonstration of the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) enabling RAN self-healing and optimization, including rApp impact compensation with RAN optimization xApps working on the latest O-RAN SC RIC stack.
Sameh Yamany, Chief Technology Officer at VIAVI stated that with each O-RAN plugfest, they have seen the commitment from more service providers, a proliferation of vendors, and clearer signs that the technology is progressing toward maturity. In 2021, the scope of the investigation has expanded beyond connectivity between O-RAN elements to automated assurance and optimization using the RIC and xApps.
VIAVI offers the most comprehensive test platform on the market for lab validation, field deployment and service assurance of O-RAN networks, deployable on-premise, in public or private clouds, and as Test as a Service (TaaS). With over 85% of NEMs using the VIAVI RANtoCore platform for gNB development, the company uniquely offers market-leading 5G and Open RAN test solutions for conformance, performance and interoperability of O-RU, O-CU, O-DU, RIC and Core elements.
Click here to learn more about VIAVI Test Suite for O-RAN Specifications.