Open RAN European Forum
By LitePointNovember 2, 2022
Panel Addresses Testing and Integration of European Open RAN Deployments
Open RAN enables a multi-vendor approach to building a mobile network that delivers more innovation, lower cost, and offers more network agility. However, this approach requires additional testing and system integration.
As Open RAN networks are being deployed by mobile network operators in Europe, careers are sharing the testing and integration strategies they are using to ensure O-RAN interoperability.
LitePoint’s Rex Chen took part in a testing and integration panel at the virtual Open RAN European Forum alongside representatives from Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone talking about the challenges with deploying Open RAN and especially systems integration aspect of the radio infrastructure system.
This panel, moderated by Sean Kinney, editor in chief of RCR Wireless News, share the system integration perspective, presented by the operator executives, and the network element test perspective, provided by Rex.
Vodafone’s Defined O-RAN Plan
Vodafone has well defined 5G O-RAN goals with O-RAN to be 30 percent of its radio access network market by 2030. The company wants to be aggressive in capturing the reduced costs and network flexibility that comes with O-RAN but is aware of the added system integration requirements. Traditional RAN solutions come completely integrated and tested – mostly because one OEM vendor controls all the underlying technology and system software.
Vodafone is very transparent about its plans and published the “System Integration White Paper” that spells out the O-RAN testing and integration responsibilities for its own testing and what it expects from its vendors.
Deutsche Telekom Seeks Real World Experience
Deutsche Telekom is taking a multifaceted approach for 5G O-RAN deployment and integration needs. For hands on experience, the company has established “O-RAN Town,” which is Europe’s first live O-RAN deployment in the town of Neubrandenburg, Germany. Here they are getting a better real-world understanding of the technology and gaining experience with the complete process of designing, implementing, and operating a 5G O-RAN network.
In addition, the company is leading a consortium of government agencies, standards boards and O-RAN technology companies to build an interoperability lab in Berlin. The lab is equipped for end-to-end integration and for performance testing. In the end, the lab will certify that O-RAN components are network-tested, interoperable and ready for deployment.
Network Element Testing is Evolving
Rex talked about how network element testing is evolving to keep up with the move from integrated to multi-vendor radio systems. For functional testing, it’s important that test equipment companies work closely with chip vendors to get access to APIs to ensure the chipset are completely tested and follow the O-RAN standard accordingly.
Ensuring highest quality is important and for O-RAN, it means that each of the different RUs, DUs and other network elements can interoperate perfectly according to the 3GPP standard and O-RAN specification. Conducting O-RAN Plug Fests is a great way to demonstrate this in the real world by getting different solution providers of the O-RAN system to jointly validate the interoperability of the O-RAN RU, DU and CU components.
Test systems also need to support multiple test interfaces because O-RAN comes with different deployment options. The most common deployment is option 7.2, but the use of small cells is a growing application and utilizes option 6. This requires an entirely different test interface.
How Much Testing is Enough?
Rex was also asked about how many times O-RAN systems should be tested? Again, with the goal of highest quality, functional testing should be done in the research & development phase which will determine if the system is meeting the specifications for throughput and other details of the standard. Testing should also take place during production with a focus on performance and quality. This blog covers just a few of the highlights of the conversation; the panelists had much more to say.
Watch the entire webinar
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