Samsung, KDDI claim world’s first 5G SA O-RAN site powered by vRAN

Japanese and Korean partners accelerate deployment of standalone 5G sites by simplifying and automating process of building out network infrastructure using virtualised RAN technology

Japanese operator KDDI has turned on in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, what it says is the first commercial 5G standalone (SA) deployment using open and virtualised radio access network (Open RAN, vRAN) technology, successfully completing the transmission of live 5G traffic.

The operator regards 5G technology as capable of powering new applications and use cases, such as extended reality (XR), real-time services in the manufacturing sector – such as the collection of sensor data, remote operation and factory automation – and connected services in the transportation sector, such as automated vehicles and traffic management.

While it says the number of connected devices and mobile data traffic consumption is growing exponentially, due to the increase in usage, it is more important to build a network infrastructure quickly and cost-effectively.

The operator is installing virtualisation and O-RAN technology to replace dedicated hardware with software elements that can run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. KDDI believes this approach will bring flexibility and agility to its network, allowing the operator to offer enhanced mobile services to its users.

KDDI is confident that it can deploy fully virtualised 5G RAN software swiftly using existing hardware infrastructure and that new 5G SA technologies – such as network slicing, multi-access edge computing (MEC) and others – powered by 5G vRAN will deliver superior performance, higher speeds and lower latency, allowing KDDI users to experience a range of new next-generation services and immersive applications.

It also sees such an architecture delivering reliability, while accelerating deployment of Open RAN throughout Japan, including rural areas.

Beginning with this site in 2022, KDDI, along with Samsung and Fujitsu, will deploy this Open RAN in some parts of Japan and continue its deployment and development, embracing openness and virtualisation in KDDI’s commercial network. For the deployment of this first site, KDDI used O-RAN-compliant systems, including Samsung’s 5G virtualised control unit (vCU) and virtualised DU (vDU) as well as Fujitsu’s Massive MIMO radio units.

Woojune Kim, executive vice-president, head of global sales and marketing, networks business at Samsung Electronics, said: “Leveraging our industry-leading 5G capabilities, we are excited to mark another milestone with KDDI and Fujitsu. Samsung stands out for its leadership in 5G vRAN and Open RAN with wide-scale commercial deployment experiences across the globe. While KDDI and Samsung are at the forefront of network innovation, we look forward to expanding our collaboration towards 5G SA, to bring compelling 5G services to users.”

Shingo Mizuno, corporate executive officer and vice head of system platform business at Fujitsu, added: “The Open RAN-based ecosystem offers many exciting possibilities and this latest milestone with KDDI and Samsung demonstrates the innovative potential of next-generation mobile services with Massive MIMO units. Fujitsu will continue to enhance this ecosystem, with the goal of providing advanced mobile services and contributing to the sustainable growth of our society.”

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