Consortium wins UK Government funding to further development, carrier grade testing and standards in Open RAN RICs
London, UK - 15 September, 2023 - Project ARIANE (Accelerating RAN Intelligence across Network Ecosystems) is proud to be one of the Department of Science Innovation & Technology (DSIT) Open Networks Ecosystem (ONE) competition winners with an objective to further the UK cause for RAN Intelligence and software development. Accelerating RAN Intelligence across Networks Ecosystems or ARIANE includes 9 partners: TIP, Accenture, Amdocs UK Limited, Arqit UK, BT Group plc, HCL Technologies, Net Reply UK, Viavi Solutions UK and VMWare UK, and will be supported by Adtran. In the past 4 years, the movement towards open and disaggregated networks started, thanks to initiatives led by Open-Radio Access Networks (O-RAN) ALLIANCE, Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open RAN along with Mobile Network Operator (MNOs) and other vendor industry forums. Although there is increased market choice in hardware elements of an Open RAN, the software elements are still maturing. One key element of the O-RAN ALLIANCE architecture is the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), which allows interoperable and portable Software applications to interface into the Radio Network, and through the use of AI/ML techniques to assess, diagnose, and learn how to optimise performance and resource utilisation of radio network elements. The benefit to the MNOs, in the future, is the ability to dynamically adapt the use of radio access at site, whilst optimising use of spectrum, being more energy efficient, and improving upon coverage and capacity to suit fluctuations in customer demand.
As an extension to the currently running UK Future Radio Access Networks Competition (FRANC) project – ARI-5G (Aug 22 to Jan 24), ARIANE will set out to address two industry level challenges:
more operator led testing is required to showcase the effectiveness of AI/ML applications on radio network performance, and further stimulate market development
industry standards require further refinement, specifically in 3 challenge areas:
technical approaches to resolving Open RAN system conflicts from applications running concurrently
common API flows for RIC platform providers to attract more application developers to interface into their platforms
clearer definition of the feature set, security requirements and performance of the interfaces that will exist between RICs and Radio elements (E2, O1, A1)
The consortium will conduct carrier grade simulated testing of 3 DSIT highlighted xAPPs/rAPP use cases over multiple RIC platforms – energy reduction, advanced traffic steering, and dynamic Quality of Service (QoS) based resource allocation. As well as testing these use cases under various test conditions, ARIANE partners will be using resources & tools, to investigate, validate, and report insights into the specific challenge areas that are impacting standards development and market development today.
After 18 months, the project hopes the outputs will help to stimulate more operator trust in RIC applications for real-world RAN deployments, to foster further RIC and application development, and to improve standards definition in interface design, API flows and security-by-design.
The consortium will be present at FYUZ, TIP’s flagship event. To learn more and register for the event, please visit: https://www.fyuz.events/
Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “Whether you’re in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business. In order to secure that, we need to embrace a diverse and secure range of technology that will underpin the network. The projects we’re backing today with £88 million in Government research and development investment will use innovative Open RAN solutions to make our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come.”
Vishal Mathur, Global Head of Engagement, Telecom Infra Project, said, “The RAN Intelligence arena has expanded massively in terms of new vendor-led AI/ML based applications and operators taking the opportunity to test out the performance and optimisation effects on RAN networks. However, the industry needs a marketplace of certified solutions as well as furthering of Open RAN standards. TIP is excited to see the UK Government take a leadership stance in this domain. TIP will take the learnings from ARIANE and stimulate ecosystem development & commercialisation of RIC based applications, upskill the future workforce in RIC & software development paths, and collaborate with standards orgs to better industry specifications.”
Maria Cuevas, Networks Research Director, BT, said, “The RIC promises the flexibility to automate network configuration to optimise the power and spectral efficiency of the RAN at the same time as serving the needs of a range of end users with differing service requirements. By demonstrating the concurrent operation of multiple control algorithms (xApps/rApps) from different suppliers, ARIANE will enhance the knowledge and confidence of participants in the RAN ecosystem to drive innovation in this area. We look forward to working with the ARIANE partners to achieve a successful outcome.”
Jefferson Wang, Global Network Practice Lead, Accenture, said, “Through this transformation journey with Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Accenture is co-developing and integrating open and disaggregated network technology to encourage a more collaborative approach to network development in the UK. Accenture will support the engineering, automation and deployment of solutions that address important needs in the telecommunications sector and beyond. We’ll also help assess interoperability between disaggregated RAN hardware and software vendors and provide end-to-end testing and benchmarking to help ensure network resilience and performance in the UK.”
Anthony Goonetilleke, Group President of Technology and Head of Strategy, Amdocs, said, “As OpenRAN continues to evolve, we are thrilled to enable increased automation in the network through our work with TIP,” “Now more than ever, we’re seeing the power that AI has in the network space; we’re also excited about the impact that ML-based improvements in network deployment and operations can bring to energy efficiency and power consumption.”
David Williams, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Arqit, said, “Arqit is pleased to deploy our unique Symmetric Key Agreement Platform into this important project. We are helping mobile network operators take the urgent action required to protect against both current and future cyber threats, and recently co-authored a GSMA whitepaper on post-quantum security. Technology models for 5G and IoT are evolving rapidly but the edge cannot be secure without a new approach to encryption. Arqit delivers that.”
Ameer Saithu, Executive Vice President, Telecom and Semi, HCLTech, said, “ HCLTech is glad to be an integral member of the ARIANE consortium, co-innovating with TIP and our ORAN alliance partners to reshape the future of connectivity together. We have significantly contributed to several O-RAN Software Community (OSC) projects. Our partnership aligns with our strategy of accelerating new digital engineering services by harnessing the power of next-generation 5G technologies. HCLTech is excited to lead the charge in developing xApps within the ARIANE project, demonstrating our commitment to swiftly bringing the Traffic Steering xApp to life. We are also performing benchmarking of ORAN interfaces in different scenarios. We are confident that our co-innovation approach will elevate industry standards and catalyze transformational growth within the RIC ecosystem.”
Stefano Nardo, Executive Partner, NET Reply UK, said, “With a wealth of experience working with network operators, Net Reply UK understands that designing and developing an Open RAN network is highly rewarding but requires careful planning, rigorous testing, specialised skills, and an exclusive focus on performance, security, and complexity. Net Reply UK is thrilled to join forces with our ARIANE partners in a multi-vendor environment to support the UK government’s Open RAN initiative, by designing, developing, and integrating AI/ML based xApps and rApps for integral use cases of energy consumption, enhanced traffic management and spectrum management.”
Ian Langley, SVP and GM, Wireless, VIAVI Solutions, said, “RAN Intelligence promises to effect massive improvements in the running of Operator Radio Networks from many perspectives including reduced energy consumption, enhanced user experience and more efficient spectrum management. VIAVI is thrilled to be part of the UK Government sponsored ARIANE project and looks forward to sharing our RIC test experience, knowledge and tools to facilitate the development of x/rApps, expedite their testing, grow the confidence in using RIC, and reduce the time to market for commercial RIC deployments and their associated applications.”
Stephen Spellicy, VP Marketing and Business Development, VMware, said, “VMware continues to invest heavily in Open RAN as part of its wider Telco Cloud initiatives and is excited to be part of Project ARIANE. Project ARIANE will focus on use cases fundamental to delivering advanced customer services and fulfilling the potential of 5G in addition to environmental and business imperatives associated with energy efficiency and sustainability in the most energy intensive area of telecoms. I look forward to the successful completion of this initiative.”
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