AT&T is working with Nokia to produce a software platform to allow for the development of open source software aligned with the O-RAN target architecture. That platform code will accelerate the deployment of open source software for the 5G radio access network (RAN).
The specific work is to develop a software platform for the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC). This would provide for a set of functions and interfaces that allow for easier integration through policy-driven closed loop automation and more flexible deployments and programmability within the RAN.
The platform is being architected as an extensible real-time microservices framework tied to a radio information database and open control plane interfaces. These would be able to handle mobility management, spectrum management, load balancing, radio resource control, and RAN slicing. The open nature will also allow for multiple vendors and third parties to have access to the RAN architecture.
“The intent is to enable an intelligent rapidly evolvable radio network by fostering the creation of a multi-vendor open ecosystem of interoperable components for the disaggregated RAN,” the carrier explained.
AT&T has been a major player in the O-RAN Alliance, which was established early last year. That group was formed by the merger of the xRAN Forum and C-RAN Alliance. It counts some of the world’s largest telecom operators, including Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile, Verizon, NTT DoCoMo, and Orange.
Akraino Edge Support
AT&T and Nokia are also increasing their use of the Akraino Edge Stack to support the RIC and other edge cloud platform deployments. This work includes a multi-year co-development agreement between the two companies.
The Akraino Project was launched by the Linux Foundation last February. It’s an open source software stack that can support carrier availability and performance needs in cloud services optimized for edge computing systems and applications. It’s designed to allow for scaling of edge cloud services.
The project began with source code from AT&T’s Network Cloud blueprint work. That code is targeted at developing carrier-grade computing applications running in virtual machines (VMs) and containers.
The Akraino Project last August opened up its seed code to allow the community to begin digging into the platform and narrow down potential use cases. The initial scenarios include creating integrated stacks for telecom-related use cases at the edge and remote edge that require between 5 milliseconds and 20 milliseconds of latency, and enterprise and industrial IoT stacks that will require less than 5 milliseconds of latency.
AT&T last month launched its mobile 5G network in a dozen markets. The carrier is relying heavily on its SDN efforts to power that network. This includes its Network Cloud platform, which encompasses the hardware and software that supports all of the carrier’s applications and SDN services; its ECOMP platform that supports the carrier’s physical assets – like routers – to be implemented with software; and the AirShip platform that allows the carrier to manage cloud sites.
Amy Wheelus, vice president of Network Cloud at AT&T, recently told SDxCentral that the carrier has virtualized its 5G core that is now riding on its Network Cloud and being provisioned by Airship. “5G is our first use case,” Wheelus explained.