Samsung accelerates Open RAN development

Having already established a 5G networks product portfolio, Samsung Electronics has completed open radio access network (Open RAN) conformance and interoperability testing for commercial-grade LTE and 5G NR radios for leading US operator Verizon’s network. It has also announced participation in the NTIA wireless innovation fund set to advance Open RAN  interoperability, performance and security.

Samsung first partnered with Verizon in 2021, supporting the commercial launch of the telco’s first 5G C-band networks with its vRAN solution. This led to another project in 2022, with Samsung building a vRAN commercial network. The latest collaboration is regarded by the companies as reinforcing their commitment to Open RAN and in enabling virtualised open networks with greater flexibility, faster time-to-market and “unmatched” performance.

In a series of tests carried out in Samsung labs in Dallas, Texas, the companies used Samsung radios compliant with O-RAN specifications, including CAT-A radios 4T4R supporting 700/850 MHz and AWS/PCS bands, CAT-B 64T64R Massive MIMO C-Band radios, and the 16T16R C-band and CBRS dual-band radio. Verizon has already deployed the 64T64R Massive MIMO radio throughout its large-scale commercial vRAN networks nationwide.

Samsung said that the results from the test illustrate its capability to handle advanced Massive MIMO radios integration, which is more complex for 64T64R Massive MIMO radios, compared with simple CAT-A radios.

Using Keysight Technologies’ Open RAN distributed unit (O-DU) emulator, the companies tested O-RAN mandatory and optional beamforming capabilities in the same Massive MIMO unit. They said that they delivered promised performance gains and that such a level of conformance testing helps to ensure that new Open RAN networks will perform as expected while delivering the full capabilities that next-generation 5G solutions enable.

“O-RAN is a very important component of our network evolution strategy,” said Steven Rice, vice-president of network planning at Verizon. “By leveraging O-RAN radios and software-driven infrastructure with industry-leading partners like Samsung and Keysight, we continue to drive the industry towards a more open, interoperable environment which will provide greater flexibility, greater innovation and better performance for our customers.”

Aiming to create more momentum in the arena, Samsung also announced it will be participating in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Wireless Innovation Fund (WIF).

The fund was formed in April 2023, by the US Department of Commerce, investing $1.5bn to advance the testing and evaluation of open and interoperable network infrastructure in the country, aiming to conduct testing and interoperability in Open RAN deployments and ultimately remove barriers to adoption.

Samsung’s commitment extends to participation in two consortiums that have been awarded funding in the first phase of the WIF programme – one with DISH Wireless’s Open RAN Centre for Integration and Deployment (ORCID), and another with the Acceleration of Compatibility and Commercialisation for Open RAN Deployments (ACCoRD) with AT&T and Verizon. These collaborations test individual and combined Open RAN components and pave the way for widespread adoption of open, interoperable and standards-based radio access networks.

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