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 firstly train the xApps and rApps and secondly test the output decisions 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.
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 to.
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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