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Test and Measurement: Keysight, AT&T And Others Join Forces On Open RAN White Box

Keysight Technologies, AT&T and some of their fellow Open Radio Access Network Alliance members have developed a white-box O-RAN millimeter wave unit for 5G networks that will be showcased at Mobile World Congress, in a live demo that the companies say “combines essential building blocks to create and test a blueprint for next generation RAN.”

The collaborative effort includes participation from Keysight, AT&T, Anokiwave, Ball and Xilinx; the white box demo will be held at Xilinx’s MWC booth 6M30 in Hall 6.

“This achievement within O-RAN is exciting because it proves that a radio unit can be built on an open architecture platform,” said Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs. “Since the demo unit we’ll show at MWC is built with commercial off-the-shelf components, it’s a promising next step to deliver the flexibility we’re looking for when building networks– especially as we enter into the mobile 5G deployment era.”

Rob Freedman, VP and GM for tactical solutions at Ball Aerospace, said that the white box proof-of-concept “demonstrates that an open architecture remote radio unit can be built with commercial off-the-shelf components.” Alastair Upton, Anokiwave’s SVP of business development, added that “A working prototype of a mmWave Smart Radio Unit from a fronthaul interface to mmWave beams is an important step to realize open interfaces for the O-RAN Alliance.”

In other test news:

Broadband Forum released new specifications this week that contribute to wired networks’ preparations to support 5G networks. The group said that its work on modularization of the Dynamic Bandwidth Assignment (DBA) function, led and developed by Japanese operator NTT and Taiwanese operator Chunghwa Telecom, is a “significant advance in the quality of service of optical access systems and a milestone for 5G by accelerating the time-to-market for time-critical applications.”

The forum went on to explain that the new specs define an application programming interface which enables the DBA software module to be replaced, so that “optical access systems can quickly and cost-effectively provide a wide range of services, including support for 5G fronthaul interfaces and services for business users.”

“These technical advances will enable carriers to use a common access system for a diverse range of services including the accommodation of base stations for 5G mobile systems, which place strict requirements on acceptable latency thresholds,” said Jun Terada, GM at NTT Access Network Service System Laboratories, in a statement. “Although DBA, which requires high-speed processing in the region of sub-milliseconds, was thought difficult to modularize due to its time critical nature, it is a crucial function that significantly impacts QoS in optical access systems. We believe that the widespread use of the API as an international standard will lead to the drastic expansion of the application area of optical access systems.”

Separately, Broadband Forum also has delivered detailed recommendations for converged 5G core networks for fixed and mobile networks to the Third Generation Partnership Project and center around interfaces between the two network types, as well as recommendations on signaling changes in order to fully integrate wireless access.

Dave Allan, who directs the forum’s Wireless and Wireline Convergence work area, said that the recommendations are a milestone that “will drive the core convergence of fixed and mobile networks.

“In many ways this is just the beginning and, as Release 16 progresses and 5G further expands, our work with 3GPP will continue to ensure standardization of this new technology is successful,” Allan added. “With 5G promising a variety of new and innovative applications such as autonomous driving and healthcare, this work is crucial to enabling converged operators to unlock these opportunities – empowering them to deliver a uniform experience to their customers irrespective of the access media type, technology, or appliance they are using.”

RootMetrics revealed the results of its most recent round of testing and ranked carriers in terms of their performance in six categories at the national, state and metropolitan level in 125 cities. Read the full story here.

-Keysight’s Ixia has been chosen by Telefonica for monitoring its worldwide networks.

Viavi Solutions said that Etisalat’s Saudi Arabian network operator Mobily has expanded its use of Viavi’s Nitro Geo location intelligence offering as well as its Nitro mobile traffic storage agents for network and service optimization.

Viavi recently reported strong financial results for its most recent quarter, with net revenue of $306.9 million, up nearly 50% year over year. Net income was $15.4 million.

Oleg Khaykin, Viavi’s president and CEO said that both its network and service enablement group and its optical security and performance group “exceeded our expectations, driven by strong year-end demand for our core product lines, a recovery in North American service provider spend and greater than expected demand in our key growth areas of 5G wireless and fiber.” Khaykin added that the company expects to see typical seasonal decline in spending from North American service providers during the next quarter, but other than that, it anticipates “continued strong performance in our key growth areas of 5G wireless, 3D sensing and fiber throughout the calendar year 2019.”

Spirent Communications introduced what it says is the first universal test system for in-vehicle communications, combining both traditional bus and automotive Ethernet testing. Ethernet testing for vehicles “requires new, complex methodologies for validation,” Spirent said, from standards conformance to application-layer functionality; meanwhile, the bus system is likely to remain in vehicles for years to come. Spirent said that its new Spirent Automotive ComTT platform provides both conformance and performance testing of both system types.

National Instruments has hired its first chief marketing officer. Carla Piñeyro Sublett joins the company from Rackspace and has also held previous executive leadership roles in sales and marketing at Dell. Eric Starkloff, NI president and COO, said that her “proven track record of building global brands, ability to champion a customer-centric culture and deep experience across all facets of marketing make her a strong addition to our leadership team.”

Rohde & Schwarz’s deep packet inspection company ipoque gave an update on its growth this week, reporting that 2018 was a year of “record growth” leading it to more than double its headcount and expand by opening a new office in Berlin, Germany. Ipoque said that three of the five top virtualized evolved packet core vendors have embedded its R&S PACE 2 solutions into their products.

Rohde & Schwarz is privately held and does not regularly report full financials, although it does give occasional updates on its status; the most recent was in late 2018.

Dirk Czepluch, CEO of ipoque, said in a statement that in the coming year, the company “will continue to enhance our solution set – focusing on driving the deployment and performance for full virtualization, especially with the emergence of 5G. We will also stay laser-focused on building technical excellence in packet processing, traffic analytics and traffic management.” – RCR Wireless

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