Vodafone and NTT DOCOMO, INC. (DOCOMO) today published their second joint white paper (see below) setting a clear path to greater automation associated with Open Radio Area Networks (RAN).
Automation will remove many of the existing manual processes associated with single supplier sites, making it easier to build and maintain software-dependent 5G networks using AI and Machine Learning techniques. There are many benefits that a smarter Open RAN mobile base station will deliver, including automatically extending 5G coverage faster, and remotely turning off unused mobile cells to save energy.
Greater standardisation of the interfaces between existing parts of the network and the newly created Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) platform is the key to unlocking these benefits. Developed by the O-RAN Alliance industry body, the SMO utilises intelligence and automation to simplify the deployment, operation, and maintenance of 5G sites. It is needed to control increasingly complex 5G applications and services, but while progress is being made, SMO is still reliant on proprietary vendor practises.
This paper describes the actions operators can take to accelerate the SMO deployment and standardisation of open interfaces. It concludes that the pressing challenge for the industry is to develop a maturing Open RAN ecosystem in which the SMO interfaces are aligned and in step with developments in radio antenna technology.
Vodafone and DOCOMO will continue to collaborate towards a timely evolution and successful deployment of SMO.
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