Altiostar, NEC demo massive MIMO at O-RAN Alliance event in India

5G Top Stories

In October, the O-RAN Alliance conducted its second Global O-RAN Alliance plugfest, an event that boasts the goal of testing and demonstrating “the growing maturity of the O-RAN ecosystem.” This week, Altiostar shared further information about its participation, which involved teaming up with NEC, as well as Bharti Airtel, who hosted the Indian regional plugfest event as part of the global event series. Altiostar and NEC focused specifically on interoperability testing and integration of massive MIMO radio units (O-RU) and virtualized distributed units (O-DU) running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers.

According to the companies, one of the main goals of the demonstration was to show O-RAN option 7.2x split integration between a virtualized O-DU from Altiostar and an NR O-RU (i.e. 5G radio unit) from NEC.

In addition, the project featured a commercial end-to-end Open Fronthaul interface based on O-RAN specifications and the demo included control, user, synchronization and management plane protocols, including 3GPP RCT and performance cases.

Anil Sawkar, vice president of Engineering and Operations at Altiostar, claimed that vendors like Altiostar and NEC are “at the forefront of providing software and radio solutions based on O-RAN standards,” and that “4G and 5G radio access networks are undergoing a profound transformation, as the wireless industry is shifting to an open and cloud-native architecture.”

“Dozens of greenfield and brownfield wireless operators worldwide are trialling and deploying O-RAN networks as they realize the benefits of this new approach, including reduced costs, increased automation, and faster time to market with services,” Sawkar continued.

“Providing open innovations that conform to industry standards in the radio access network is critical to accelerating our customers’ journey towards Open RAN deployment and provisioning of more flexible and efficient networks that meet the requirements of cutting edge 5G use cases,” said Kazuhiko Harasaki, deputy general manager, Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC.

For Airtel, the interest in hosting an O-RAN event comes as no surprise, as the company has been a member of the O-RAN Alliance since the group’s inception in 2018. Further, it was the first operator in India to commercially deploy a virtual RAN solution based on a disaggregated and open architecture defined by O-RAN.

 “We are delighted to partner with the global O-RAN community,” Bharti Airtel’s CTO Randeep Sekhon commented. “Our engagement with Altiostar and NEC for demonstrating O-RAN O-DU and O-RU, 5G RCT and E2E performance is another step forward towards building 5G systems with open network architecture.”

The plugfest also took place in other regions around the world, including Europe where Deutsche Telekom, TIM, Telefónica, Orange, and BT teamed up together with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to host the first Joint O-RAN & TIP plugfest at the OTIC and TIP community labs in Berlin, Madrid and Torino. The plugfest in this region focused primarily on Open Fronthaul, associated transport options, and multi-vendor interoperability.

In East Asia, the region’s plugfest was supported by 16 companies, including hosts NTT DOCOMO, KDDI and SoftBank Corp. The event focused on multi-vendor interoperability using ORAN’s open interfaces: Open Fronthaul (OFH), Fronthaul Multiplexer (FHM), X2, A1, E2, F1 and E1, as well as RAN virtualization and RAN Intelligent Controllers (RIC).

Earlier this year, the O-RAN Alliance gained Mentor GraphicsJapan’s Rakuten Mobile and U.S. Cellular as members.

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