Mavenir, Northeastern University offer open RAN simulator

Mavenir has been working with researchers at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University, and earlier this week, they announced the public availability of an open-source platform for end-to-end simulation of 5G wireless networks using open Radio Access Network (RAN) components.

In short, it’s good news for developers and third parties that want to build applications and test them against open RAN-compliant software, according to Bejoy Pankajakshan, EVP and chief technology & strategy officer at Mavenir.

This allows anyone to test and accelerate the development of open RAN applications, he said. Otherwise, they’d have to wait for Mavenir or someone else to give them software for test purposes.

“The goal of ns-O-RAN is to kickstart research on control of 5G RAN systems using xApps and the Open RAN interfaces” said Tommaso Melodia of Northeastern University’s Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things and director of research for the PAWR Project Office, in a statement. “This includes research and development of methods and techniques based on big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI).”

Mavenir has been one of the pioneers in the open RAN movement, one that seeks to provide more competition beyond the likes of Ericsson and Nokia and remove vendor lock-in associated with them.

Mavenir last week announced it had raised another $155 million in capital. It also intends to act as a systems integrator, but Mavenir President and CEO Pardeep Kohli told Fierce that it will be integrating products from myriad suppliers so it’s not going to end up becoming another Nokia or Ericsson.

Pankajakshan acknowledged the challenge with open RAN is introducing it in a non-standalone (NSA) 5G model, where incumbent operators are using legacy LTE equipment. It’s a lot easier to introduce open RAN with standalone (SA) 5G, which is what Dish Network is doing in the U.S. The SA version of 5G has been slower to get deployed with the big incumbents, both within and outside the U.S., although that’s starting to pick up.

Mavenir hasn’t announced any open RAN deals with a Tier 1 in the U.S., but it is working with Dish. It’s also working with Triangle Communications in Montana in a rip & replace scenario to remove gear from a Chinese supplier. With Triangle, Mavenir is supplying a fully virtualized open RAN and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network.

While Mavenir sees opportunities for more business in rip & replace situations – a lot of smaller, regional operators used Huawei gear that has to go – the open RAN opportunities with Tier 1s are likely to start with small cells, fixed wireless access (FWA), private networks and in-building solutions before expanding to the macro environment, according to Pankajakshan.