Altiostar tests O-RAN-compliant 5G with NEC and Rakuten

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Altiostar has tested O-RAN Alliance-compliant, multi-vendor massive MIMO 5G with vRAN in collaboration with NEC Corporation and Rakuten Mobile.

The software provider says this is an industry first. Altiostar is integrating the O-RAN distributed unit (O-DU) functionality of its virtual radio access network (vRAN) software with NEC’s O-RAN Radio Unit (O-RU) using fully compliant control, user, synchronisation and management plane protocols based on O-RAN Alliance guidelines.

The 5G layer is built using container network functions (CNF) that leverage Rakuten Mobile’s cloud infrastructure platform, which is part of its 4G network build-out.

Interoperability based on open specifications from the O-RAN alliance aims to allow operators to work with a diverse range of suppliers and to enable modularity when deploying networks.

“Rakuten Mobile is a big supporter of O-RAN principles and has seen the benefit of supply chain diversity in our own network,” said Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Rakuten Mobile.

“By combining the spectral efficiency of massive MIMO along with an advanced cloud-based RAN [radio access network], we are leveraging and introducing advanced innovative technology from both NEC and Altiostar, who are specialists in these respective fields.”

Supply chain diversity

Giving further technical detail, Altiostar said that as part of management-plane integration, it is following a hierarchical model that allows the O-DU software to manage the NEC O-RU, including providing software upgrades, RU configuration, fault management and performance monitoring. This interoperability is being performed for 5G new radio (NR) sub-6 GHz massive MIMO O-RU and meets all the 3GPP downlink/uplink requirements.

“Open RAN as a concept is one that the whole industry is now actively pursuing as a means to introduce supply chain diversity into mobile networks globally,” said Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar Networks. “Altiostar is leading the industry with this network transformation by ensuring interoperability, integration and most importantly extensive testing to ensure that we have a commercial, carrier-grade solution for both 4G and 5G while keeping the principles of open RAN in place.”

Altiostar, Rakuten and NEC Corporation were among the founding members of the Open RAN Policy Coalition which launched earlier this month to spur competition and push for federal 5G support in the US.

Rakuten recently pushed the launch of its 5G service back by around three months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on part of the company’s global supply chain. It launched its fully virtualised cloud-native 4G network in Japan in April.