TeraVM RIC Test

TeraVM RIC Test – Helping to drive down the cost of deploying and operating O-RAN

A RIC is an AI-Assisted RAN Intelligent Controller designed to optimize Radio Access Network resources, reduce signaling and improve capacity. VIAVI has designed a solution to test this vital part of the network.

As used at the 2021 and 2022 O-RAN global plugfests

What is the RIC?

The RIC enables the optimization of RAN resources through near real-time analytic processing and provides adaption recommendations. The RAN intelligent Controller (RIC) is cloud native, and a central component of an open and virtualized RAN network. The RIC is an O-RAN Alliance defined network component that aligns with 3GPP Release 15 and beyond, it supports network slicing, mobile broadband, mission critical communications etc.

It helps operators to optimize and launch new services by allowing them to make the most of network resources. It also helps operators to ease network congestion. RIC stands for RAN Intelligent Controller and is an open platform designed to host RAN control applications (called xApps) which will be developed by specialist software developers – sometimes external to the RIC vendor.

TeraVM RIC Test was used in the O-RAN Alliance Plugfest in October 2020 as part of an OSC traffic steering demonstration. View here

Three objectives of the RIC

  • Performance Data
    RIC receives a stream of RAN data (counters, KPIs, measurements) which can be analyzed by xApps and AI/ML engines to make RAN optimization decisions
  • Resource Assurance
    Ensure services attain required performance – using handover, modulation changes, prioritization RAN 
  • Balance and Harmony
    Ensure RAN efficiency when many users are battling for scarce resources

Challenges when deploying the RIC

All the messages coming from the RAN into RIC need to go over the E2 interface. However, most developers won’t have a RAN to test the RIC with. They therefore need a way to emulate the RAN traffic scenarios in order to test the functions of the RIC. They also need to be able to test in real time, given that much of the RIC’s functionality is performed in real time or near real time.

Operators need a way to do all of this in a lab environment, before costly network roll-outs and before they then experience troubleshooting problems which could impact the quality of the end user experience.

Integration with legacy systems

Don’t forget the RIC needs to work across different generations of mobile with 3G, 4G and 5G traffic mixed in a cell.

Technology immaturity

The standards are still being being defined. There will be new start-up companies joining the ecosystem, many with a lack of mobile communications experience.

Complexity of deployment

A new element, new interface, new applications, the RIC has the very important job of managing the RAN. For example, will 1 xApp undo another xApp, will outcome of 1 xApp invoke a reverse action by another xApp?

Solutions

The RAN Intelligent Controller requires inputs (source) in order to make decisions which might improve the running of the RAN, it then requires a source to send its RAN changes improvements.

TeraVM RIC Test can provide the emulated RAN (the measurements) to the RIC under test and then receive the outputs/decisions from the RIC and modify according to the proposed changes from the RIC. This makes it easy to see if changes improve the RAN efficiency.  This ensures RIC developers can test their RIC effectively. The TeraVM is a virtualized test tool that ramps up quickly and can change inputs at ease. 

VIAVI is enabling operators to test the RIC and in doing so is helping to expedite the roll-out of open RAN networks and architectures. We’ve developed a means of testing the E2 interface itself, creating the volume and scale of messages that would go across, extending the capabilities of TeraVM is just one way that we’re supporting the evolution of networks, and working with operators to ensure easy, cost-effective ways of testing and readying their networks for their subscribers.


TeraVM RIC Test helps to showcase the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) potential, bringing AI/ML techniques to network optimization and service management at Global Plugfests

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Our products live in rugged environments for over 10 years with 1000s of test connect/disconnect cycles.  We will be there to support you to ensure components that require maintenance like connectors, batteries, and software updates to ensure you are ready to test accurately for years to come. We apply factory procedures that use fast, automated calibration and functional verification, maintenance using OEM parts and the application of all engineering change orders and software updates. Services are available through contract Care plans, FleetCare or per incident as requests. 

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