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Juniper Networks begins Open RAN use case trial with Vodafone and Parallel Wireless

Leading operator, cloud-native Open RAN company and AI-driven networks provider team on software-driven architecture project to showcase route to enhanced mobile business opportunities and critical user experiences

As the goal of deploying comms networks based on open radio access network (Open RAN or O-RAN) technologies becomes a reality for leading global service providers, Juniper Networks has announced that it is working with operator Vodafone and Open RAN tech provider Parallel Wireless on a multivendor RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) trial for tenant-aware admission control use cases.

The trial, initially running in Vodafone’s test labs in Turkey and with plans to move into its test infrastructure, supports O-RAN interfaces and is designed to address the key business challenges faced by mobile operators around personalised user experience, viable revenue generation, and reduction in both capital and operational expenditure for 4G and 5G services.

The design philosophy at the heart of the trial is focused on demonstrating the potential of enabling open, agile resource management and mobile data delivery in any software-driven RAN environment. This approach enables services and applications to be managed, optimised and mitigated automatically by the RAN, built on real-time data insights from its own performance.

The trial is based on an open, software-driven architecture that leverages virtualisation to deliver more programmable, automated granular-by-user traffic management. The initial focus is on delivering tenant-aware admission control capability that will enable operators to personalise services and provide superior user experiences.

Real-time tracking and enforcement of radio resources across the RAN enables mission-critical users – for example, hospitals and schools – to receive prioritised mobile data services delivery. This capability is enabled by Juniper’s rApp/xApp cloud-based software tools that manage network functions in near real time, along with Parallel Wireless cloud-native Open RAN functions.

Juniper’s RIC solution is architected as an open platform supporting open interfaces on the northbound and southbound side, for enabling easier integration with Open RAN partners in the ecosystem. The RIC platform will also enable integration of third-party rApps/xApps, using UI-based onboarding and deployment tools coupled with flexibility to select between either network-based or SDK-based application programming interfaces (APIs).

In January 2022, Vodafone announced that it had teamed with Samsung Networks Europe to switch on the UK’s first Open RAN site to carry live 5G traffic, marking a milestone in the commercial deployment of Open RAN network architectures in Europe, with more than 2,500 additional sites to follow.

“Vodafone has a clear vision that all mobile network radio infrastructure should be open – enabling rapid adoption of innovative services,” said Paco Martin, head of Open RAN at Vodafone Group. “We see this [trial] as a key stepping stone to rich innovation and collaboration, the only way that ground-breaking new use cases in 4G and 5G can be developed and cost-effectiveness maximised.

“To accelerate progress in this exciting journey, I am very pleased that Vodafone is hosting a lab and field trial for tenant-aware admission control using O-RAN interfaces, alongside an ecosystem of like-minded technology partners. By working together, we will be able to build smarter networks, better user experiences and drive stronger sustainability measures for B2B use cases.”

All three organisations are active operators and contributors in the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), underlining, said Juniper, their shared commitment to industry innovation and standards.

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