Mavenir touts open vRAN architecture for 2G

Mavenir said it lays the groundwork for incorporating 2G into O-RAN Alliance standards. (Getty Images)

Mavenir on Tuesday touted what the software vendor says is a first – viability of an open vRAN containerized architecture for 2G.

The Texas-based open RAN supplier announced commercial readiness of virtualized and containerized 2G protocols (GSM layer 1, 2 and 3) that can run in the same architecture as 4G and 5G. This means a common platform could be used for 2G, 4G, and 5G. It also lays the groundwork for incorporating 2G into O-RAN Alliance standards, according to Mavenir.

The GSM 2G architecture used an “enhanced fronthaul (FH) interface between the Multi Radio Access Technology (MRAT), Remote Radiohead Unit (RRU) and the Distributed Unit (DU)…demonstrating full frequency hopping, multiple TRX’s, multiple codecs, ciphering and handovers in readiness for commercial deployments.”

Bringing 2G into the open RAN fold has been on Mavenir’s radar and it acquired small cell solution provider ip.access Ltd. last September in part to add 2G and 3G capabilities to the vendor’s OpenRAN portfolio.

RELATED: Mavenir turns up campus network to showcase open vRAN, CBRS suite

Fellow U.S.-based open RAN vendor and competitor Parallel Wireless already touts its “All G” (including 2G) software-enabled OpenRAN architecture. In late June the vendor announced a trial replacing legacy infrastructure with Parallel open RAN gear, in which a single radio unit with 4G and 2G technology was installed and carried commercial traffic in Sri Lanka for Axiata, with a baseband on a SuperMicro Intel x86 COTS platform.  

Mavenir’s Aniruddho Basu, SVP and GM of Emerging Business, previously told Fierce that in relation to the ip.access purchase it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with Parallel competitively, as Mavenir has “a full end-to-end network stack while Parallel Wireless is a specific domain player for radio access…”

For the newly developed 2G architecture, the company combined tech from ip.access and “containerized the GSM layer 1, 2 and 3 protocols of 2G in the DU microservices architecture that can be run in parallel and on the same platform with the 4G/5G network architecture.”

Mavenir also created an enhanced 2G interface MRAT protocol on top of the O-RAN-based eCPRI interface.

RELATED: What is eCPRI, and why is it important for 5G and open vRAN?

That combined interface will be standardized in the O-RAN alliance and made openly available. Work on the protocol specification and open interface to add 2G with 4G and 5G is already underway.

“Mavenir is excited to have developed and demonstrated a world’s first, viability of an Open vRAN containerized architecture for 2G with the addition of multiple air interface protocols using an O-RAN based architecture,” said Pardeep Kohli, president and CEO of Mavenir, in a statement. “This milestone enables us to readily support operators in making a complete swap from proprietary Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions to open interfaces, and virtualized Web-Scale architectures.”

Adding to 2G with 4G and 5G for open RAN is important as a recent LightReading article detailed how operators are approaching 2G networks and the legacy technology is poised to stick around longer for some, even as carriers shut down 3G.

Mavenir also called out the drive for support of swapping out legacy network equipment. It’s one of the vendors vying for contracts under the rip and replace program in the U.S., where mostly smaller and rural providers have to remove network gear from Huawei and ZTE deemed a security threat.  

Triangle Communications, a service provider in Montana, decided to take an open RAN approach and picked Mavenir to replace and upgrade its existing gear.