xRAN.org was formed to develop, standardize and promote a software-based, extensible Radio Access Network (xRAN) and to standardizing critical elements of the xRAN architecture. The xRAN architecture transforms today’s static, highly proprietary RAN infrastructure into an extensible, software-based service delivery platform capable of rapidly responding to changing user, application and business needs.
In addition to the industry leading mobile carriers - AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, Verizon and SK Telecom, xRAN.org includes technology suppliers and research leaders including: Intel, Texas Instruments, Aricent, Radisys, Mavenir, Cisco, Altiostar, ASOCS and Stanford University.
Current RAN architectures result in sub-optimal use of scarce spectrum and radio resources as well as make it hard for operators to program them quickly to meet emerging customer needs. Amid exploding demand for bandwidth and intense demands from new services, carriers need an alternative approach to tackle the escalating capital and operational costs of the existing design as well as make the network more agile to deploy new services.
HOW IS THE XRAN ARCHITECTURE DIFFERENT?
xRAN fundamentally advances the RAN architecture in three areas – decouples the RAN control plane from the user plane, builds a modular eNB software stack that operates on common-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and publishes open north and southbound interfaces to the industry.
- Decouple Control and User Planes: This migration of control, formerly tightly bound to RAN hardware devices, into accessible computing devices allows the underlying RAN to be more efficiently orchestrated as a logical pool of capacity. eNB software is decoupled from vendor specific hardware, inspiring innovation in both software and hardware cooperatively, but independently. Carrier’s gain unprecedented real-time programmability and control in their RAN infrastructure, which readily supports next generation mobile applications and business services.
- Modular eNB stack: The xRAN approach is well aligned with carrier Network Function Virtualization (NFV) initiatives, and provides high-performance, fine-grained traffic control, interference management and radio resource control on standard x86 platforms and across multi-vendor radio access interfaces. This approach enables flexible placement of eNB functions and hybrid split-control plane with a scheduler to handle variable front-haul latency and programmable control.
- Standardize North and Southbound Interfaces: Standard, open interfaces with multiple vendor support and proven interoperability. The xRAN.org and its members will drive adoption of these interfaces through standards processes, socialize the xRAN architecture and provide needed support. xRAN interfaces are well aligned with carrier edge cloud initiatives and complementary to edge computing efforts such as CORD. Realized on top of the CORD compute platform, the xRAN interfaces allow dynamic orchestration of compute and storage resources together with the mobile network.
The software-based architectural approach delivered by xRAN allows carriers to reduce complexity, innovate more quickly and significantly reduce operational and capital costs.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR CARRIERS?
- Decoupling control plane from user plane gives carrier’s unprecedented real-time programmability and control in their RAN infrastructure, which readily supports next generation mobile applications and business services.
- A modular, software-based eNB stack approach enables flexible placement of eNB functions and hybrid split-control plane with a scheduler to handle variable front-haul latency and programmable control.
- Standardized southbound interfaces enable multi-vendor implementations and northbound interfaces enable end-to-end network slicing to optimize user QoE. xRAN interfaces are well aligned with carrier edge cloud initiatives, allowing dynamic orchestration of compute and storage resources together with the mobile network.
- Reduces capital expenses of growing RAN capacity and reduces the cost of operating the RAN through increased automation and reduced manual provisioning and per-box configuration.