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Ensuring Successful Open RAN Deployments with 5G Fronthaul Emulation

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Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) is being adopted by service providers and equipment manufacturers to reduce infrastructure deployment costs and to lower the barrier of integrating innovative product developments. Read about the advantages and challenges emerging in that process, and how testing helps speed up ORAN deployment.

Challenges of using open fronthaul interface

In ORAN, the distributed unit (DU) is connected to the radio via a packet fronthaul interface known as enhanced Common Public Radio Interface (eCPRI). It provides multiple ways of dividing functions between the DU and the remote radio unit (RRU). eCPRI defines a protocol layer which provides various, mainly user plane data-specific services to the upper layers of the protocol stack.

Using the open interface in fronthaul not only brings advantages, but also introduces risks to product function and performance. Each vendor has a different understanding of the standards, and some vendors define customized settings to make their software applications run on the virtual platforms of others. The individual integration and interworking activities happening between different vendors make it much more complex and complicated for both network equipment manufacturers and service providers.

Comprehensive fronthaul testing

So, how can equipment manufacturers and service providers ensure successful ORAN adoption and deployment? The latest O-DU and O-RU device emulation solution from Spirent enables them to test and integrate virtualized open radio access networks in a true multi-vendor environment through comprehensive test methodologies.

There are different scenarios supported including all bandwidths and sub-carrier space, control plane, user plane, synchronization plane and management plane. Spirent TestCenter provides a lot of flexibility to cover different use cases for full functional testing, like custom slot, slot ID, PRB number and so on. These features make it easy for network equipment manufacturers and service providers to set up a diverse environment to verify function, performance, and capacity at low cost. Furthermore, the user-friendly test automation tool helps simplify test procedures saving effort and time for testing.

Continuous RF generation

When validating ORAN, one challenge is performing long duration reliability testing. The number of stream blocks required to create one radio frame is based on the sub-carrier space and bandwidth. However, these stream blocks are usually only sent once in 5G fronthaul testing.

Spirent TestCenter enables sending continuous traffic, ensuring that the same IQ samples will be transmitted for the required duration (or) in continuous mode with incremented Frame ID. Additionally, it supports up to 8 O-RU or O-DU emulation per port, which comes much closer to reproducing the actual, real-life network traffic and topology.

Smart solutions that are designed for ORAN function, performance, and scale testing help emulate real use cases and traffic to verify product design and network performance. They drive innovation and ensure reliability while reducing time-to -market and associated costs.

Learn more about latest test solution for ensuring successful ORAN adoption and deployments.

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Bi (Eileen) Li

Senior Product Manager ‒ Cloud Business & Solutions, Spirent Communications

Eileen Li is currently working for the Spirent product management team in the Cloud and IP business unit, helping to define Spirent TestCenter strategy and roadmap in 5G midhaul, backhaul and fronthaul. Eileen has over 15 years of experience working for Telecommunication NEMs and multiple service providers, being responsible for defining innovation strategy, designing network architecture and products in radio access, core and transport network. To connect with Eileen, please go to LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bi-li-51981941/