Cisco’s Open vRAN Alliance said that it has a pre-certified, pre-integrated open vRAN system ready to deploy. Cisco and its alliance partners are demonstrating the Open vRAN gear at this week’s Mobile World Congress Americas conference in Los Angeles. The Open vRAN Alliance was created last February by Cisco to develop an open and modular RAN architecture.
In a blog post written by Bob Everson, global director of mobility and 5G at Cisco, he said that the multi-vendor solution includes a disaggregated radio system, a virtualized packet core, policy, network functions virtualization interoperability (NFVI), IP transport, multi-access edge compute (MEC), and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS). Those various pieces are provided by Open vRAN Alliance members Tech Mahindra, Altiostar, Intel, Red Hat, and Qwilt.
Everson noted in his post that this Open vRAN system is a viable alternative to single-vendor RAN solutions. Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and Samsung are the top vendors providing single-vendor RAN systems to operators in the U.S.
Everson added that the group’s Open vRAN system can be combined with Qwilt’s content delivery network (CDN) and technologies such as MEC and network slicing, to be used to efficiently deliver video over mobile.
But video isn’t the only application on the Open vRAN Alliance’s radar. Everson said that the group is also demonstrating a standalone 5G New Radio (NR) data call in the 28 GHz spectrum band using gear from PHAZR, a U.S.-based vRAN company that is also a member of the Open vRAN Alliance, and Cisco’s cloud native 5G core technology.
Cisco’s vRAN Moves
Cisco’s Open vRAN Alliance is making strides in this area. The group said earlier this summer that it was instrumental in creating the management plane (M-Plane) specification for the xRAN Forum. That specification allows the baseband unit and the radio unit to exchange information about things like configuration. It’s also a key stepping stone in allowing radio units from different vendors to be interoperable.
There are other groups working on vRAN besides Cisco. The xRAN Forum, which is merging with the C-RAN Alliance to form the O-RAN Alliance, has numerous operator members and is working on specifications for vRAN. In addition, the Telecom Infra Project, which was co-founded in 2016 by Facebook, has formed an OpenRAN Group that is working on the implementation of vRAN.