In a first of its kind, Vodafone conducted a demonstration of 5G Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) running on a RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) platform in the open RAN test site. During the demo, Vodafone advertised a 5G capacity boost in a multi-vendor environment. The demo ran on software from Cohere Technologies on a pre-standards Open RAN-aligned platform from VMware. The lab test also marked the involvement of technology companies like Capgemini Engineering, Intel, and Telecom Infra Project (TIP).
Many Ecosystem Partners Contributed to the Technology Behind the Test
The demo was a joint effort by players in the ecosystem that have successfully demonstrated that when multiple users are using the same site, a powerful new Open Radio Access Network (RAN) platform can boost the capacity of 5G.In the trial, Cohere’s Spectrum Multiplier MU-MIMO scheduler showcased that users will benefit up to 2X capacity when the technique is commercially deployed in a low-band network, for example – 700 MHz, compared to traditional MIMO.
According to Vodafone, if the software was extended to Massive MIMO in the mid-band spectrum, the capacity could even boost to 4X or 5X. An O-RAN aligned RIC platform by VMware supported open APIs for 3rd party applications and implemented the open interface. Cohere’s application was the first use case integrated by VMware’s RIC platform.
The required baseband radio functions to execute MU-MIMO related actions was included in Capgemini’s software. Intel’s FlexRAN software delivered the 5G New Radio (NR) physical layer and contributed to the COTS hardware that hosted VMware’s RIC platform and Capgemini’s baseband.
Open RAN Is the Future of Networking
Mobile base stations can be built with Open RAN using hardware and software from multiple vendors. Since it is driven by software, it is easier and cheaper to extend mobile networks and upgrade them without replacing the hardware. In this regard, the Head of Open RAN at Vodafone, Francisco Martín, has said that the role that the new powerful RIC platform plays in defining Open RAN as the future of networking is validated by this initiative.
Open RAN will boost capacities for customers, reduce the need for expensive hardware costs by a third and will also cut down energy consumption. The introduction of new and innovative services will be encouraged by these time and cost savings, he further added.