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NEC delivers packet core for NTT DOCOMO 5G SA net, drives Open RAN

Leading IT and communications technology provider ends 2021 in a flurry, with services for leading Japanese operator’s standalone 5G

The pace of standalone 5G deployment has ramped up over the course of 2021, with the world’s leading telcos setting the pace. The most recent example of this is leading Japanese operator NTT DOCOMO, which launched commercially on 13 December based on packet core (5GC) and base stations (5G RUs, CU/DU) from NEC Corporation.

“5G SA enables the provision of networking solutions that can flexibly accommodate a wide variety of use cases,” said Hiroshi Kobayashi, senior vice-president of NTT DOCOMO, commenting on the deployment of a standalone network. “Through its 5G SA, NTT DOCOMO will contribute to the creation of new value and the resolution of social issues, and promote the further advancement of its 5G network to make the lives of its customers more convenient and prosperous.”

NEC’s 5G Core for SA is designed to enable DOCOMO with flexible operation for a variety of services due to its cloud-native architecture, featuring container and separation of Control and User Plane (CUPS). The 5G CU/DU, previously operating as non-standalone (NSA) on DOCOMO’s commercial network, has been migrated to 5G SA by a software upgrade in conjunction with the 5GC.

In addition, drawing on network slicing technology, NEC’s 5GC for SA is seeing use in creating customised networks on demand according to the different requirements for 5G services that include enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communication (mMTC) and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC).

“I am honoured to have been able to contribute to the commercial launch of NTT DOCOMO’s 5G SA services,” said Atsuo Kawamura, executive vice-president, NEC. “By providing high-quality and reliable 5GC and base station equipment, we will strongly support the expansion of DOCOMO’s 5G services, as well as contribute to the further development of next-generation mobile infrastructure throughout global markets.”

As it was announcing its role in the NTT DOCOMO deployment, NEC also revealed that it had successfully demonstrated its leading Open RAN massive MIMO capabilities for the O-RAN Alliance Global PlugFest 2021. Hosted by leading operators and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), PlugFests are aimed at demonstrating the functionality – as well as the multi-supplier interoperability – of O-RAN-based network equipment, while serving as a testing ground for advanced O-RAN operators to gauge the maturity of Open RAN.

NEC and its subsidiary Netcracker participated in multiple PlugFest venues across the globe this year, demonstrating their commercially proven, award-winning Open RAN 5G massive MIMO radio units (O-RU), Open RAN Domain Orchestration solution (O-RAN SMO) and RAN software.

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In the US PlugFest, NEC deployed its O-RU with Mavenir’s O-CU/DU for multi-supplier interoperability. Commenting on the partnership, Puneet Sethi, Mavenir senior vice-president and general manager, RAN business unit, said: “The Open vRAN eco-system and roadmap continue to expand now, including massive MIMO capabilities, enabling CSPs to make efficient use of their 5G spectrum.”

Patrick Lopez, global vice-president of product management for 5G products at NEC, said: “Multi-vendor, high performance Open RAN is crucial to demonstrate market maturity. In 2021, the industry demonstrated great progress.

“We will continue working closely with customers and market-leading partners to deliver a vibrant ecosystem of open, high-quality and high-performance networks,” he said. 

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