Network Infrastructure Requirements for Deployment of Open RAN

When it comes to the adoption of 5G, there is a lot of hype around topics such as edge computing, network slicing, or the Internet of Things (IoT). And while these are all important concepts for the 5G ecosystem, the key to successful adoption of 5G will be a combination of open source software frameworks, standard APIs, and open source hardware. It’s not just about vendor neutrality but also making these components readily available so that everyone – regardless of size – can take advantage. This article provides an overview of some considerations when deploying a software-based open RAN.

Overview of an Open RAN Deployment

An open RAN deployment is one in which the core network infrastructure and radio access network (RAN) elements are implemented using standardized, open-source software components. The objective of such an architecture is to reduce the barriers to entry for new service providers and other organizations that are interested in deploying 5G networks. Open RAN deployments can take one of two basic forms: Software-defined radio (SDR) or network function virtualization (NFV). An SDR-based architecture relies on software-defined radios that are programmed to operate within a defined radio protocol architecture. This architecture is implemented in software on standard computers and is used to control radio frequency (RF) hardware that is connected to the computers via USB or PCI interfaces. An NFV architecture, on the other hand, relies on virtualized network functions that are implemented as software that runs on standard computers. These virtualized network functions are used to control the operation of the physical network elements that are connected to the computers using standard network connections.

Network Infrastructure Requirements for an Open RAN

For an open RAN to be implemented as an open source deployment, the core network infrastructure must be able to support open standard APIs and protocols. This would enable an open-source RAN implementation to integrate with the core network infrastructure. The two most important considerations for network infrastructure requirements are scalability and extensibility. Selecting network elements that support the right scale for your network infrastructure enables you to grow your network as needed to support new services and traffic. Also, it would enable you to integrate different open-source RAN implementations as they become available. Selecting network elements that enable extensibility ensures that you can easily add new functionality to your network as new open-source RAN implementations become available.

5G Open RAN Architecture Options

Several 5G network architectures have been proposed for open RAN deployments. While we don’t claim that the following list is comprehensive, we’ve selected the following architectures for discussion due to their relevance to open-source RAN deployments. The centralized architecture, distributed architecture, and hybrid architecture are all network architectures that have been proposed for 5G networks.

● The centralized architecture uses a single control plane at the core network. This architecture is suitable for large-scale networks.
● The distributed architecture uses a distributed control plane at the core network. This architecture is suitable for networks that operate at small scale.
● The hybrid architecture is a combination of centralized and distributed architecture where centralized architecture is used for part of functions and distributed architecture is used for others.

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