Sprint opens TIP lab for OpenRAN 5G NR

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Sprint's goal is to push the pace of innovation for 2.5 GHz 5G NR based on open reference designs. (Fierce Wireless)

Sprint announced the opening of a Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab in Overland Park, Kansas, where it hopes to further the development and deployment of OpenRAN 5G New Radio (NR) solutions. The announcement was made today at the TIP Summit 2019 in Amsterdam.

The lab is one of 12 TIP Community Labs around the world. It will host the trial and test activities of the TIP OpenRAN 5G NR Project Group co-chaired by Sprint.

"Our goal is to push the pace of innovation for 2.5 GHz 5G NR based on open reference designs to ultimately deliver better connectivity and services to customers," said Sprint CTO John Saw in a statement. "We’re excited to open this lab resource and we look forward to collaborating even further with the TIP community."

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Facebook launched TIP back in February 2016 with the goal of bringing connectivity to unserved and underserved markets through the development of software-powered telecom infrastructure. It has since grown considerably and today it announced Rakuten Mobile, Japan’s newest mobile operator, has joined the TIP community and will contribute 4G and 5G expertise and reference designs for disaggregated solutions.

The project reports seeing increasing demand for new TIP solutions from service providers based on new RFIs, RFPs and RFQs. In fact, Sprint is releasing an OpenRAN 5GNR RFI, with the results expected in the first quarter of 2020 at Mobile World Congress.

Incidentally, Dish Networks, which could become a fourth facilities-based carrier if the merger with Sprint and T-Mobile goes through, is also a member of TIP. Deutsche Telekom is on the TIP board.  

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Sprint joined TIP last year, making it the first U.S. wireless operator to become a member of the project. Sprint is now co-chair of the TIP OpenRAN 5G NR Project Group focused on developing sub-6 GHz 5G NR small cells and macro cells for outdoor and indoor use cases, with millimeter wave 5G NR solutions to follow.

According to Sprint, the OpenRAN 5G NR Project Group aims to create an open reference design that leverages general purpose hardware, allowing operators to select best-of-breed hardware components coupled with disaggregated software. Based on operator input, the group is developing modeling techniques and a test framework for specific applications and deployment scenarios using both standalone and non-standalone 5G NR architectures.

In August, Sprint contributed a draft technical specification to the Project Group for a 2.5 GHz, n41 band white box 5G NR base station.

Article updated Nov. 14 with additional information on Sprint's RFI. 

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