Mavenir goes commercial with its OpenRAN system

Mavenir today announced the commercial availability of its fully virtualized 4G/5G OpenRAN technology. And the company already counts two named operator customers - Vodafone and Telefonica – that will use it.
Mavenir’s OpenRAN technology enables remote radio units (RRUs) from any vendor to interface via Ethernet fronthaul with baseband units built on commercial off-the-shelf equipment. The interface is made possible with open source O-RAN software that rides over the fiber connecting the RRUs with the baseband unit.

RELATED: Vodafone initiates first open RAN trials in the U.K., challenging traditional vendors

The company’s software supports the O-RAN 7.2 Radio Architecture with Open Interfaces specification. The O-RAN 7.2 spec provides an open alternative to the Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) that the wireless industry has traditionally used.

Some operators, such as AT&T, are leading a charge to improve CPRI. They’re evolving the interface to provide more flexibility in its fiber transmission capabilities. Additionally, they are demanding that vendors open their proprietary CPRI interfaces so that carriers can mix and match RRU and baseband equipment from different suppliers. This work has been dubbed enhanced CPRI (eCPRI).

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

But just because some vendors are starting to open their interfaces, that still doesn’t mean that there’s any standardization between different vendors’ CPRI.

The O-RAN 7.2 spec solves that problem. It does the same job as CPRI or eCPRI, but it’s an open interface that brings standardization to the ecosystem.

Pardeep Kohli, president and CEO of Mavenir, said, “O-RAN and eCPRI are addressing a similar market. O-RAN is a spec designed to address the problem from scratch. With O-RAN, I don’t need to know the spec from the other guy. We’re all following the same spec.”

But Kohli added that Mavenir can also work with CPRI and eCPRI.

In fact, many network operators including Telefonica and Vodafone have legacy network equipment that they still need to work with and for which they must continue to deal with CPRI.

Kohli said Mavenir’s 4G/5G OpenRAN technology is suited for new greenfield deployments where there is no existing coverage or in places that need more capacity. “In either case you have to deploy new radios. Do you want to do it in proprietary way or an open way?” he asked.

The company is primarily in the software business. It works with RRU vendors for the radio equipment. For the baseband unit, its software runs on general purpose hardware from the likes of Intel and Dell. “If we are integrating with somebody’s CPRI, we have a hardware card to convert to O-RAN,” said Kohli.

RELATED: Mavenir wants to replace the proprietary baseband unit with x86 and software

Operators that deploy Mavenir’s OpenRAN software based on the O-RAN 7.2 spec can expand their network now to a hardware-agnostic system and be ready for 5G with a software upgrade.