Vodafone and friends find a way to boost OpenRAN capacity

In a lab test led by Vodafone some AI special sauce was used to significantly boost the capacity of a multi-vendor OpenRAN set up.

Joining the radio access network fun were Cohere Technologies, VMware, Capgemini Engineering, Intel and Telecom Infra Project. They cobbled together a new type of RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) that is positively dripping with artificial intelligence, which made the various components work so well together that the capacity of the RAN was doubled.

It looks like Cohere that provided the secret ingredients, specifically its Spectrum Multiplier MU-MIMO scheduler. The ‘MU’ bit stands for ‘multi-user’ and, when incorporated into the RIC, it ‘apportions ample bandwidth to individual users connected to the same mobile site and is considered the pivotal technique to boost cell capacity in future 5G networks,’ according to the announcement.

Vodafone gets a bit carried away with evangelising later on in the release, declaring ‘Open RAN is considered the future of networking,’ as if it’s settled consensus. That remains to be seen and it will only be the future of networking if it’s at least as good as the closed RAN solutions offered by the big kit vendors.

‘Driven by software, it means it is easier and cheaper to extend mobile networks and carry out upgrades without replacing hardware,’ persisted Vodafone, once more confusing marketing hype with established fact. Once Vodafone starts replacing its existing commercial kit with OpenRAN gear, and can demonstrate the benefits, we’ll start taking all these claims seriously. Until then it’s just words.

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