The 5G cellular networks are being designed to facilitate service-driven solutions that can respond flexibly and efficiently to the upcoming requirements for mobile services of a variety of sectors. The core functionality that is a key prerequisite for supporting diversified 5G services is known as “dynamic E2E network slicing.” This process enables the physical network infrastructure to be divided into virtual “network slices” with different quality characteristics.
The architecture involved relies upon software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). These technologies control the creation, orchestration, provision, utilization, and operation of the various slices, from the “CORE” network to the transport network (x-Haul) and the access network (RAN).
With the 16 years of experience it has built up in automated RAN configuration, MicroNova has a particular focus on the dynamic provisioning of 5G network services in a disaggregated, flexible, and virtualized radio access network, of the type used in 5G technology. The provisioning aspect here includes the delivery of network resources and the setting up and securing of 5G services, as well as the release of resources after termination of the service.
With the O-RAN Alliance, MicroNova is collaborating with highstreet technologies GmbH on the standardization of the service management interface with the disaggregated RAN (the “O1” interface). The objective is to define an open, vendor-neutral interface between the control level (the SDN controller) and the network itself.
The O-RAN Alliance was founded in February 2018. Its key members consist of a group of leading, globally active network operators. They are supported by a number of participating companies from all areas of the telecommunications sector. The aim of the O-RAN Alliance is to accelerate the deployment of products that can support a common, open architecture and standardized interfaces. The Alliance is concentrating on the development of open, intelligent, virtualized, and interoperable RAN specifications.
MicroNova is also a partner of the Open SDN & NFV Lab (OSNL*) in Berlin, which, in turn, is affiliated with 5G Berlin e.V. The OSNL has access to outstanding infrastructure and a tailor-made ecosystem, based on open source projects such as OpenDaylight and ONAP. It offers the perfect conditions for the development, integration, and testing of SDN/NFV applications. This enables end-to-end use cases for 5G to be fully mapped out, developed, and then demonstrated in the form of a proof of concept. In this way, the key challenges related to 5G network slicing can be tackled with the involvement of a variety of stakeholders from all areas of telecommunications, industry, and the automotive sector. Thanks to the use of open architecture, there are also plans to involve private networks – known as “campus networks” – and to integrate these within the SDN-NFV architecture. In order to implement this transformational shift to SDN-NFV architecture among public mobile network operators, the seamless integration of legacy technologies (2G, 3G, 4G, and NSA 5G) will be vital. For this reason, MicroNova is currently working on the implementation of a proof of concept for a multivendor/multitechnology mediator. The aim is to deliver an interface based on the O1 standard for integrating Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei’s legacy RAN equipment with the SDN/NFV ONAP orchestrator.
*) Operator Defined Next Generation RAN Architecture and Interfaces – www.o-ran.org