The O-RAN Alliance cemented its collaboration with the Linux Foundation, by creating the O-RAN Software Community (O-RAN SC). As a new open source community hosted by the Linux Foundation, the O-RAN SC is sponsored by the O-RAN Alliance. Together, the two groups aim to develop an open and “smart” radio access network.
The initial set of software projects may include: near-real-time RAN intelligent controller, non-real-time RAN intelligent controller, cloudification and virtualization platforms, open central unit, open distributed unit, and a test and integration effort to provide a working reference implementation.
Most of the major service providers have been working on disaggregating hardware from software in their core networks and data centers. But now, the O-RAN Alliance aims to bring those same principles of disaggregation to the radio access network. Working with other adjacent open source networking communities, the O-RAN SC will enable collaborative development across the full operator network stack.
Sachin Katti, a professor at Stanford University and co-chair of the O-RAN Alliance technical steering committee, said in an earlier interview with FierceWireless that the goal of RAN virtualization is to run software on top of x86 or Arm-based hardware, instead of proprietary hardware. “You should be able to run the software on different hardware,” said Katti.
“This collaboration between the O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation is a tremendous accomplishment that represents the culmination of years of thoughtful innovation around the next generation of networks,” said Andre Fuetsch, chairman of the O-RAN Alliance and CTO at AT&T, in a statement. “The launch of the O-RAN SC marks the next phase of that innovation, where the benefits of disaggregated and software-centric platforms will move out to the edge of the network.”
“The O-RAN Open Source Community is the fruit of a year-long extensive deliberation between the O-RAN Alliance and the Linux Foundation,” said Chih-Lin I, chief scientist of China Mobile and co-chair of the O-RAN Alliance technical steering committee, in a statement.
In fact, it’s kind of unique that the O-RAN Alliance will remain as an independent group, while the open source software will be developed within the new Linux Foundation project.
Katti told FierceWireless today, "We set up the Linux Foundation project to build an open source community to complement the work the O-RAN Alliance is doing. We were finding there were for-profit companies wanting to contribute to open source. We wanted a common place where such code could be contributed. We are not mandating that the O-RAN Alliance has to be open source. There will also be proprietary vendors."