Moving away from traditional, rigid mobile networks
As revenue from voice and data services plateau, communication service providers (CSPs) are looking for new opportunities to drive the next phase of revenue growth and roll out new services. Traditional proprietary solutions for the radio access network (RAN) have been kept in a black box, leading to slow innovation cycles, limited competition, and complex manual operations. As a result, CSPs are limited in their ability to deliver new services while the costs of equipment and operations are continuing to increase.
To spur innovation, the RAN is transitioning from a traditional and siloed approach to a cloud- and software-defined design, with RAN functions implemented in software using open APIs based on a flexible cloud platform. This shift moves the RAN into its next phase of evolution and accelerates the time to market for CSPs to offer new services and applications, allowing for the monetization of the RAN.
The Move to Open vRAN
With an open virtualized RAN (vRAN), the next evolution of the RAN is taking place.This framework disaggregates hardware from software and delivers open interfaces.The framework also enables a CSP to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware based on an Intel architecture.
In an Open vRAN model, the baseband function becomes an application running on a cloud platform. With this disaggregation, CSPs can choose mobile network components from different vendors, leading to significant capital and operational savings, and leading to increased competition in the market.
Altiostar Open vRAN with VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN
The Altiostar Open vRAN solutions for 4G and 5G run over COTS servers using Intel architecture and on the VMware Telco Cloud platform. This solution establishes the next frontier in the virtualization of the RAN:
- Meet the functional requirements of LTE and 5G RAN
- Eliminate the rigid architecture and silos of traditional RAN deployments
- Open the RAN interfaces and pave a path to a fully open RAN
- Automate and optimize RAN technologies for deployment and operations
- Accelerate 5G applications and services innovations
- Convert the traditional cell site from a cost center into a revenue-generating asset
The Altiostar vCU and vDU can interface with a radio according to the O-RAN specifications, which lets CSPs choose the hardware they want for both servers and radio units.
VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN transforms the RAN into a 5G multi-services hub. In addition to supporting vRAN functions, the horizontal design of VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN provides the flexibility and adaptability to develop and deploy custom 5G applications such as xApps, running at the edge of the network. These applications take full advantage of the Open vRAN control and user proximity to deliver unique network services for customers. Leveraging open interfaces and deploying new differentiated services help capitalize on 5G, unlocking new verticals across several industries.
The Altiostar Open vRAN software has been tested and integrated with VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN to produce a deployment-ready solution that enables advanced programmability and automation for joint customers.
Intel FlexRAN Software Reference Architecture
To support RAN-specific performance enhancements, VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN virtualizes RAN functions, including Altiostar’s Open vRAN solution, on a platform optimized for the RAN using the Intel FlexRAN reference architecture. Intel FlexRAN enables various RAN workloads including dynamic network slicing with a high degree of flexibility and scalability. As we will discuss, this will play a crucial role in how CSPs can further monetize their 5G networks.
The combined Altiostar, VMware and Intel solution leverages the power of cloud, disaggregation, and Open RAN architectures to support consumer and enterprise use cases in verticals as diverse as energy and mining to retail and healthcare. Virtualization and disaggregation allow the same RAN software components to be packaged with the right footprint to meet the diverse requirements for enterprises. Coupled with zero touch provisioning and end-to-end automation, these solutions allow seamless integration onto existing enterprise IT infrastructure.
Enabling the First Cloud-Native 5G Open RAN Network in the US
DISH Networks has announced VMware, Intel and Altiostar as partners in the build-out of their nationwide 5G O-RAN based wireless network. DISH will utilize a fully automated cloud-based Open vRAN solution to offer new services and leverage Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for end-to-end automation, zero-touch commissioning and faster network recovery.
Conclusion: Modernize to Innovate and Monetize the RAN
Leveraging the Intel FlexRAN reference architecture, VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN with Altiostar’s Open vRAN software virtualizes the radio access network to allow new revenue-generating opportunities for today’s CSP.
Pre-engineered blueprint integrations and validated functional RAN capabilities enable Open vRAN to meet stringent RAN performance requirements for operators.
A cloud-native infrastructure and operational model based on an open and disaggregated RAN provides the foundation to automate operational tasks and increase efficiency. This allows CSPs to host 5G applications at any site, including the RAN, which in turn opens the way to RAN monetization.
For more information on how Altiostar, Intel and VMware are collaborating, please visit VMware MWC events page on Intel Network Builders.