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The importance of real-world testing for O-RAN components and systems

What impact will Open RAN have on testing?

In the larger sweep of the push to cloud-native Standalone 5G, operators are reconsidering the legacy, monolithic approach to building a radio access network (RAN). Based on technical specifications developed by the O-RAN Alliance, operators around the world, both greenfield and brownfield, are deploying Open RAN systems wherein hardware and software are decoupled, virtualized, and deployed in a cloud environment.

Spirent VP of Product Management James Kimery identified multi-vendor interoperability as the cornerstone of Open RAN. It “gives operators the ability to mix and match different network components,” he said in this interview. This lets them “not only lower cost because the multi-vendor interoperability increases competition…but it basically widens the ecosystem of participating vendors in those RAN elements. And that enables more companies to be able to provide solutions to the service providers so they can offer more services, they can have better monetization opportunities, and so forth. So, the future looks bright.” 

With new opportunities that speak to opex reduction and ability to capture new markets and new service revenue opportunities, Open RAN also comes with challenges operators have to navigate, especially testing—with multi-vendor systems comes the need to test the myriad hardware/software combinations in deployment scenarios running the gamut of public and private network scenarios. Each component of an O-RAN system needs to be tested in a lab, before going live, using emulated real-world, real-time conditions to determine if it will function independently as its own unit, with adjacent blocks, and as part of a complete end-to-end system.

In this MWC 2023 interview with RCR Wireless News, James Kimery sheds more light on the challenges of O-RAN. He explains how Spirent’s new O-RAN solutions test multi-vendor interoperability under real-world conditions in varied configurations via an automated, single UI platform, so operators can deliver the services and functionality that their customers require.