The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has released a draft of its latest technical requirements document for OpenRAN and members have until the end of September to submit comments on the proposals.
The OpenRAN Draft Release 2.0 Detailed Technical Requirements document has been put together in response to a set of requests laid out by the ‘Gang of Five’ European operators, which signed a memorandum of understanding to support Open RAN and a broad ecosystem, and recently published their first set of key technical requirements.
By using that European document as its starting point, TIP shows how European-centric its activities often are despite the ongoing influence of its US founder, Facebook. Many of its biggest supporters are large European telcos. Vodafone and Telefónica, both members of the G5, were the first to issue Open RAN RFIs under TIP auspices and have both worked with TIP groups on defining specs and trialling technologies. Another G5 member, Deutsche Telekom, hosts one of the TIP ecosystem acceleration centers (TEACs), which incubate start-ups with technologies that could contribute to an Open RAN platform (others are run by BT in the UK and SK Telecom in South Korea).
TIP says its own document, once approved by members, will provide “the industry baseline to create a central roadmap and timeline for further requirements and new solutions”. The aim is to have a harmonized set of current and future requirements that would be pushed through the test and validation framework in order to “avoid fragmentation, with the ultimate goal of helping accelerate the development and deployment of standards-based, open and disaggregated solutions for actual Open RAN use cases”.
Another industry group that aims to minimize fragmentation and drive unified platforms for open networks is Small Cell Forum (SCF). With many early Open RAN deployments likely to focus on localized or enterprise networks rather than macro 5G, small cells stand to gain a significant boost from the trend and SCF has been working on specifications at different levels, from xHaul interfaces in support of 3GPP Split 6, to neutral host models and ecosystem projects.
Like TIP, SCF knows the importance of creating strong testing frameworks to support new architectures and multivendor platforms and it has published a paper outlining the key test configurations for optimising radio units and distributed units in a disaggregated small cell RAN. The paper (https://scf.io/documents) focuses on supporting 3GPP TS38.141 compliance testing of Split 6 products, using the SCF nFAPI 2.0 interface.
The project was led by testing company Keysight Technologies and small cell system-on-chip provider Picocom.
The paper provides an overview of 5G split 6 S-RU and S-DU products and architectures, and examines the impact of split 6 on compliance testing for 5G base stations. It also develops options and proposes different solutions for testing S-RU and S-DUs, and has an overview of TS38.141 test approach for Split 6 products.
“Open RAN disaggregated networks facilitate vendor diversification with radio units and distributed units supplied by different vendors. It is imperative that vendors can be confident their units are compliant when tested as a complete system, and a test solution particularly for S-RU needed developing,” said Vicky Messer, director of product management at Picocom.