How can software drive radio’s flexibility and innovation? How can operators benefit?
Although most MNOs are still skeptical about their networks virtualization plan, the leading in that space operator, Telefonica has recently demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a full virtualized end to end network. Today less than 30% of their RAN system is virtualized, and the operator is looking to overcome challenges, towards its vision of a common infrastructure to serve both Telco and Service Platforms requirements (VNFs, Virtual Network Functions).
Software Radio Intelligence (SRI) has become one of the main vendors’ concerns during their existing and future roadmap planning as operators request to fulfill their dynamic topologies and architectures. There has been some action during the past years from several radio manufacturers that have added software functionalities to their radios portfolio. The need to SDN (software-defined networking) backhaul resource management and optimization, should be able to provide a practical migration path to SDN architecture over time.
Most of the latest and future radio systems upgrade that start from the vendor’s chipset ownership aim to be fully software configurable and programmable, boosting several operational benefits in the field:
- Full operation control – users could be provided full control over the operation of the radio system, enabling multiple configuration alternatives for meeting various deployment objectives
- Pay as you grow capability – users could enable additional interfaces and capacity only when they’re needed, via software license keys, delivering cost-savings
- Simplified sparing - without altering hardware modules to add capabilities, radios could be fully software defined and designed to meet all current and future requirements of the link, thus dramatically enabling network operators to benefit from the software agility in transforming and expanding their network..
- Technology flexibility, performance and ease of deployment in all modes of operation, accelerating massive scale deployments.
Recently Intracom Telecom has announced the OSDR (Outdoor Software Defined Radio) platform. It is a fully programmable all-in-one Software-Defined Microwave platform that offers IP connectivity in Point-to-Point (PtP) and Point-to-MultiPoint (PtMP) configurations. Depending on customer-selected software, the OSDR platform operates as an all-outdoor next-generation PtP radio, a PtMP terminal or a PtMP base station / hub.
In addition, the international radio manufacturer has been already engaged into implementing its Network as a Service vision. This is part of its ongoing roadmap to innovation in the Telco SDN/NFV domain, carrying out advanced R&D activities along selected cutting-edge areas, supporting an advanced Virtualization Toolkit. Intracom Telecom is among the very first members of the OpenDaylight community to deliver MEF(Metro Ethernet Forum)-specified Ethernet virtual connection services over the SDN architecture, maximizing ease of management, adaptability and scalability.
Similar software approaches have been announced by other leading vendors as well, such Ericsson, in February, the Ericsson Networks Software 15B. It delivers system software releases across different platforms to maximize performance and efficiency. Among its highlights, the software-only upgrade of installed base LTE baseband hardware to support simultaneous LTE TDD – FDD operation, but also automated handling of up to 60,000 LTE cells, significantly shortening the time-to-market for LTE rollout.