Samsung embraces open source on path to network virtualization, automation

Samsung sign
Samsung, well known for handsets, is increasing its network infrastructure profile in the U.S. (FierceWireless)

Samsung is raising its profile in the North American radio infrastructure business, and that includes support for operators’ efforts to use open standards.

Samsung is one of the vendors contributing to the xRAN Forum, which last week announced the release of a new specification that opens up competition in the Baseband Unit (BBU) and Remote Radio Units/Heads (RRUs/RRHs) that go into the eNodeB. Samsung Electronics America was also selected by Verizon earlier this year to assist in its 4G LTE Open RAN initiative, where it’s supplying gear that includes RRHs and BBUs.

According to Alok Shah, VP of networks strategy, business development and marketing at Samsung Electronics America, Samsung has long believed in the importance of open ecosystems. 

“Operators need new tools in order to manage continued growth in mobile data usage, and an Open RAN architecture can bring accelerated introduction of new features and technologies, greater flexibility in network architecture and operation and lower operating costs,” he told FierceWirelessTech in a statement. “This is why Samsung joined xRAN Forum and participated to such a large degree in the initial development of the fronthaul specification.”

In parallel, he said, Samsung has participated in Verizon’s Open RAN initiative as part of its selection of Samsung as a new 4G LTE macro vendor.

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“Samsung views carrier-grade open source initiatives as an important part of the move to network virtualization and automation,” he said, noting the company is an active participant in industry programs such as the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), Open Networking Operating System (ONOS), Mobile Central Offices Rearchitected as Datacenters (M-CORD) and Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP).

Samsung is an active contributor in the xRAN Forum Fronthaul Working Group that released the initial specification last week.

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So, what is Samsung contributing exactly?

“Specifically, we played an instrumental role in establishing the user plane, control plane, and synchronization specs for fronthaul and look forward to continuing work with xRAN Forum and leading operators to transform the radio access network,” Shah said.

At Mobile World Congress 2018, the xRAN Forum announced its intent to merge with the C-RAN Alliance to form the ORAN Alliance, which is a worldwide, carrier-led effort to drive new levels of openness in the RAN for next-generation wireless systems. AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, DoCoMo, Orange, Verizon and Telstra are among the operators driving those efforts.

The xRAN Forum was founded in June of 2016 by AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom and Sachin Katti, professor at Stanford University, to promote a software-based, extensible Radio Access Network (xRAN) and to standardize critical elements of the xRAN architecture.