AT&T, DT, and Others Welcome 5G SD-RAN Project

The front of an AT&T store.

An exciting new project is underway in the world of wireless and it has some of the biggest names in the business giving it its support. The Software Defined Radio Access Network (SD-RAN) project is underway thanks to its creation by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). The project will produce open-sourced software and multi-vendor solutions that can be applied to an array of 4G and 5G networks. While SD-RAN is software-driven like SD-WAN, they are both different in many different ways.

The main goal of the SD-RAN project will be to create an open-sourced Near Real-Time RAN Intelligent Controller (nRT-RIC) that works with architecture created by the Open RAN (O-RAN) Alliance. Open-sourced technology will bring benefits to vendors, carriers, and anyone else developing 5G networks. For this reason and more, it should be no surprise that companies such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom (DT), China Mobile, Google, Facebook, Intel, and many more are supporting the project. Many of the same supporters of the SD-RAN project also helped found the O-RAN Alliance in 2018.

Wireless companies collaborate often to advance the capabilities of networks and devices. Pushing technology forward is something everyone loves to see and the U.S. government is no exception. The desire to win the race of 5G from the Trump administration is well documented as is its continuing feuding with China, particularly, Huawei. Chinese telecommunication companies have seen a litany of political rhetoric and actions that is meant to hinder their ability to operate in the U.S. and within the borders of its allies. Various Chinese companies including China Mobile and China Unicom are a part of the project but scrutiny has been avoided due to the U.S. supporting ONF. ONF’s VP of Marketing and Ecosystem, Timon Sloane mentioned the goal of avoiding “separate mobile solutions in different continents” that would not be compatible due to geographical differences.

There has been a call for more competition in the wireless space by operators. Even the government stepped in during the T-Mobile-Sprint merger to ensure there wasn’t a lack of competition which then provided the framework for DISH Network to enter the wireless sector. There are other pushes for opening up more spectrum as we have seen with the latest FCC auction involving Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and the demand for more spectrum to increase opportunities for additional competition. The SD-RAN project is currently a prototype capable of supporting more than 100 base stations and 100,000 devices with incredibly low latency. Field trials are planned for the beginning of 2021 and will hopefully avoid delays that the wireless industry has seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic hindering testing throughout the industry.

Source: Fierce Wireless