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NEC, SoftBank Corp., and Broadcom jointly validate RAN modernization

SoftBank Corp., NEC Corporation and VMware, recently acquired by Broadcom Inc., have jointly verified the virtualization of the radio access network, which is the front end of the mobile network. The companies confirmed the feasibility of RAN modernization by converging O-RAN architecture and Telco Cloud.

In this joint verification, a virtualized RAN (“vRAN”) system consisted of a general-purpose common infrastructure defined by SoftBank, vRAN applications using O-RAN architecture by NEC, and a vRAN platform optimized for VMware’s Telco Cloud platform.

The vRAN applications were virtualized using container technology by disaggregating the network function of the RAN into Central Units (CUs) and Distributed Units (DUs), which were conventionally handled by the Baseband Unit (BBU). By adopting the O-RAN architecture, the vRAN applications were deployed onto the vRAN platform O-Cloud as O-CU and O-DU. In addition, adopting the cloud-native technology for the Telco Cloud-optimized vRAN platform enabled advanced automate of the construction and optimization of RAN applications.

As a result of joint verification, the companies confirmed that it is possible to modernize from a traditional RAN system to a vRAN system to unify and improve the efficiency of network operations. Specifically, the companies confirmed that adopting O-RAN architecture achieves open and unified operations from the design and procurement to the construction and operation. They also confirmed that optimizing for the Telco Cloud enables the construction and operation of a scalable RAN system for smart and efficient operations.

Roles and Responsibilities
Following are the respective roles and responsibilities for each participating company:

  • SoftBank – Design and construction of vRAN infrastructure (COTS server, network equipment).
  • NEC – Development and construction of vRAN applications (CU, DU), Development and construction of RU (Radio Unit).
  • Broadcom – Development and construction of vRAN platform (IaaS, CaaS, PaaS, real-time OS).

Verification Details

The companies built a verification environment that simulates a commercial environment and conducted verified the following:

  • Basic communication process for CU/DU/RU along O-RAN architecture.
  • Low-latency and low-jitter processing of DU using a real-time OS.
  • Efficiency of RAN system construction with advanced automation functions managed by PaaS.
  • Carrier-grade robustness with healing function managed by PaaS.
  • Easy scaling out using the scaling function managed by PaaS.
  • Unified operations of multi-tenant functions managed by IaaS/CaaS.

CT Bureau

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