IBM and Airspan Networks are planning a 5G open RAN testbed across IBM facilities in two countries: the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich, Germany and the IBM Global Industry Solution Center in Nice, France. They want to demonstrate long-distance control of a 5G private wireless network.
Airspan’s SVP for Technology and Marketing Abel Mayal said the radio access network (RAN) components will be in Munich, and the 5G core will be in Nice.
In addition to testing long-distance control, Mayal said, “We wanted to test having a 5G core disaggregated from the private network.”
There are also elements of edge configuration that the two companies will be testing. Mayal said, “You can have only the control part on the cloud, and the data plane you can move to the edge and put all the data in the country where it resides.”
In addition to everything else, the two companies are trialing open RAN technology. They both belong to the O-RAN Alliance and will be using software and hardware that meets O-RAN Alliance specifications.
Mayal said open RAN benefits include i) the ability to run software on common-off-the-shelf servers, ii) the ease of using standard interfaces and iii) the flexibility of control plane and user plane separation (CUPs). “That makes a lot of sense when you start talking about the edge,” he said.
While traditional vendors have their own standards, open RAN makes it easier to run software that is aligned with the service-based architecture of the core.
“Open approaches and standards-based technologies are vital to help unleash the full potential of 5G and edge computing,” said Marisa Viveros, VP of Strategy and Offerings, Telecom, Media and Entertainment Industry at IBM. “That’s why, in collaboration with Airspan, we hope to work to advance emerging use cases that harness open RAN and bring new value to telecom clients.”
The two companies plan to provide partners and customers with the opportunity to integrate and test features for next generation campus networks.
Last year, IBM announced its Open RAN Center of Excellence in Spain to accelerate the progress of open RAN in Europe.
And in May 2021, Airspan announced the opening of a 5G Innovation Lab in the U.K. as a showcase and demonstration facility for partners, customers and government institutions.