Cisco says its Open vRAN Alliance, which debuted last February at Mobile World Congress 2018, is playing a key role in the advancement of vRAN standards by working with other groups like the xRAN Forum.
In a blog post, Mark Grayson, a Cisco distinguished consulting engineer in Cisco’s Mobile Internet Technology Group CTO’s office, said that the Open vRAN Alliance was created to develop a new open and modular RAN architecture using General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software. This helped the xRAN Forum develop its latest management plane (M-Plane) specification.
The xRAN Forum, which is in the process of merging with China’s C-RAN Alliance to form the O-RAN Alliance, recently announced that it had developed the M-Plane specification to allow the baseband unit and the radio unit to exchange information about things like configuration. According to Dr. Sachin Katti, a professor at Stanford University who heads up the xRAN Forum, this spec is necessary so that radios from different vendors can work together and set parameters.
M-Plane is based upon NETCONF/YANG, which is an open source configuration language that can support both traditional and hybrid deployment models. Cisco’s Grayson said that using YANG models will help ensure multi-vendor interoperability, make it easier to manage software, and will enable operators to validate the configuration data of 5G radio units. He also said that all members of Cisco’s Open vRAN Alliance have endorsed this specification. Those members include Intel, Mavenir, Altiostar, Aricent, Phazr, Red Hat, and Tech Mahindra. Indian operator Reliance Jio is also involved in the group.
In an email exchange with Cisco, the company told SDxCentral that the vRAN Alliance’s work is complementary to standards groups like the xRAN Forum and the 3GPP, adding that there is so much work needed to architect and implement an open vRAN solution that standards bodies alone can’t do it all. “We sit on both sides of the standards process. We are on the front end of it, working with industry partners — customers and vendors, to define and drive standards through the relevant bodies such as xRAN/O-RAN, 3GPP, etc.,” the company said. “We also sit on the other side of it, like any other vendor(s) would — building solutions and adopting the standards that are established.”