Open RAN pioneer and cheerleader Mavenir and Xilinx have stolen a march on rivals with an end-to-end massive MIMO portfolio for 4G and 5G networks based on the emerging RAN technology specifications.
The device will be able to support bandwidths up to 400 MHz.
The companies say the 64TRX ( 64 transmit and 64 receive ) device will be available for operator testing by the end of the year, and report that they have already run numerous tests of an integrated set of products, which have been evaluated by six major network operators at Mavenir’s Banagalore, India testing facility. The vendors have not identified the operators involved.
They stress they are not just offering the software but are gearing up to provide full systems integration support, orchestration and network monitoring and management capabilities.
They also stress their portfolios and systems are under development with feedback from major operators, both on the hardware and software side.
It is interesting that the first such product to reach the market is targeted at massive MIMO, which, many believe, is one of biggest challenges for the emerging Open RAN sector. Such support may help establish the technology as a mainstream 5G alternative.
For instance, at Telecom TV’s Open RAN summit late last year, Yago Tenorio, Head of Group Network Architecture at Vodafone, opined that 5G massive MIMO in particular is a complex problem to crack for the industry and will need not just a lot of software development, but also hardware, notably on the semiconductor side. “We will need new solutions to be developed in terms of chipsets that are powering those efficient, super-complex radios,” he stressed.
The device is based on Xilinx’s Category B O-RAN radio unit, with Mavenir supplying the virtualized RAN support for the mMIMO, including the Core network, the centralized unit (CU) and the distributed unit (DU).
It also uses the chip group’s technology platform, including its RFSoC digital front-end as well as Versal AI for advanced beamforming. The components used in the device are, according to Xilinx, a mix of customized and programmable parts, and the DFE is said to be about 80% ASIC-based.
Commenting on what they suggest is a breakthrough, Pardeep Kohli, CEO of Mavenir said the demonstration is “an important milestone in the delivery of open and interoperable interfaces enabling the deployment of mMIMO in high density, high mobile traffic metro areas.”
The joint solution is expected to address C-band implementations first, with other spectrum bands to follow over time. This suggests the initial market target is in the US, with other areas, notably Europe and India to follow.
While welcome, such a joint development rather diminished the entire ‘openness’ concept of Open RAN, which is that operators can pick and choose their software and hardware for the entire ecosystem from different vendors. But we can expect similar tie-ups from other suppliers, and not just for the mMIMO applications.
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