A virtualized radio access network (vRAN) is a key part of the 5G network architecture as defined by the 3GPP. And vRAN is getting a lot of attention from network operators because it promises to lower operator capex and opex costs as well as make it possible for them to add new capabilities to the network more quickly.
The growing interest in vRAN has prompted the creation of three different groups — the xRAN Forum, the Telecom Infra Project’s OpenRAN Group, and Cisco’s Open vRAN initiative. All of these groups say they are working to make the RAN more open by using standardized interfaces and white box network elements.
This area seems like a natural fit for the Linux Foundation Networking Fund (LNF). The LFN was formed earlier this year after the Linux Foundation combined six of its open source networking projects into one. Those six initial projects are ONAP, OPNFV, OpenDaylight, FD.io, PNDA, and SNAS.
A Likely Pair
And some operators believe that it is only a matter of time before the Linux Foundation steps in. In a recent interview with Chih-Lin I, Ph.D., chief scientist at China Mobile, she said that ORAN, which is the name of the newly combined xRAN Forum and C-RAN Alliance, has caught the attention of the Linux Foundation, and the group is interested in seeing how ORAN might fit into the LNF.
But so far, the LNF has not announced any plans to get involved in this area. In a statement to SDxCentral, Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking at the Linux Foundation and executive director of LNF said: “We are always looking at ways to further accelerate and extend the networking ecosystem and will continue to evaluate specific areas of potential growth.”
Nevertheless, the LNF is riding high on the success of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), which now enables nearly 60 percent of the world’s mobile subscribers. Platinum members include AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, Verizon, Cisco, Ericsson, Orange, IM, VMware, Vodafone, and Bell Canada.