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Open standard for future 5G networks (O-RAN) - Fujitsu supports Deutsche Telekom in O-RAN Town Neubrandenburg project

Main visual : Open standard for future 5G networks (O-RAN) - Fujitsu supports Deutsche Telekom in O-RAN Town Neubrandenburg project

During the Telekom Tech Grounds from June 28 - 29, 2021, Deutsche Telekom made the first call in the new 5G O-RAN network in Neubrandenburg. Deutsche Telekom and Fujitsu have collaborated for the first truly multi-vendor 5G O-RAN based network in Germany.

Neubrandenburg, a city with about 65,000 inhabitants, north of Berlin was chosen to test the integration and cooperation of different vendors in the field. So we work in close cooperation with Mavenir, who also supports the project, to jointly deliver and integrate  5G baseband software and Radio Units for the radio network. Fujitsu is committed to providing the radio units for a significant number of the sites at O-RAN Town.

Doesn't sound very exciting? But it is highly interesting and, above all, has potentially far-reaching consequences for the development of mobile networks in Germany and Europe.

O-RAN stands for Open Radio Access Networks, a new standard in mobile communications technology that is not about speed or latency, but about open interfaces and the compatibility of devices from different manufacturers.

Proprietary systems are the standard in mobile communications today. Current RAN technology is provided as a hardware and software integrated platform. The ambition for Open RAN is to create a multi-supplier RAN solution that allows for the separation - or disaggregation - between hardware and software with open interfaces and virtualization, hosting software that controls and updates networks in the cloud. The promised benefits include supply chain diversity, solution flexibility, and new capabilities leading to increased competition and further innovation.

The O-RAN ALLIANCE, of which Fujitsu has been a member since its founding in 2018, wants to change that. Together with many partners, including a long-standing collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, a technical concept has been created to improve interoperability in Radio Access Networks, our mobile networks. In Germany's first O-RAN Town, the O-RAN Standard 7.2 was implemented. Part of this standard is the so called Low Layer Split (LLS), which means that the Radio Unit (RU) and the Distribution Unit (DU), also known as Layer 1, are divided.

By defining standards for open interfaces and by abstracting network elements from the hardware, a radio access network that is independent of proprietary technology is created. This has many advantages, especially for 5G. 5G, unlike previous wireless standards, will communicate with many more "things" in the Internet of Things: infrastructure that is both mobile and stationary, sensors, vehicles, the garbage level indicator in a public trash can and many more.

The number of our personal devices continues to grow as well. 5G not only realizes large capacity and high speed, but also enables multiple parallel connections and low latency.

Thus, 5G is able to connect the real world with the "digital space", the digitized world is made. However, technologically, a centralized network can no longer be used for this service, as it was with 4G and its predecessors. It is necessary that the network, in case of failures, can reconfigure itself. We call this a "distributed network," where i.a. the connection can be established through other network nodes that were not previously used to form the way to the Centralized Unit (CU) or the 5G Core.

The O-RAN standard makes it possible to involve a wide variety of manufacturers, integrators and providers in this network. In this way, we strengthen the competitiveness of European communication providers and our customers have the possibility to integrate exactly those components that are optimal for the respective application. In addition to the O-RAN ALLIANCE, we are involved in ONAP, the Open Ran Policy Coalition and Open ROADM.

The ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform) provides a platform for real-time, policy-driven orchestration and automation of different (physical and virtual) network functions. That will enable software, network, IT and cloud providers and developers to automate new services and support complete lifecycle management. The platform is hosted at the Linux Foundation.

In the Open RAN Policy Coalition, we work with different companies to promote policies, that will advance the adoption of open and interoperable solutions in the Radio Access Network as a means to create innovation, spur competition and expand the supply chain for advanced wireless technologies especially 5G.

And last but not least the Open ROADM MSA defines interoperability specifications for ROADM networks, including control and management.  Fujitsu has been a key contributing member since the project's inception. Only with the help of this worldwide, cross-company collaboration can we guarantee our customers interoperability in every situation and thus the best solution for their use case.

More details about the cooperation partners and the project under the leadership of the German Telekom, can be found here. Are you interested in the topic of 5G and O-Ran? Talk to our expert Reiner Hogen!