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VMware accelerates Open RAN efforts with RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC)

VMware accelerates Open RAN efforts with RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC)
Image courtesy of Facebook Connectivity.

VMware RIC offers cloud-native RAN management and control, xApp and rApp support

VMware last week unveiled VMware RAN Intelligent Controller(RIC). The company describes it as “a platform that abstracts the underlying RAN infrastructure and provides developer APIs for xApps and rApps to program the RAN.” VMware RIC uses Intel’s FlexRAN reference architecture and is based on a specifications developed by the O-RAN Alliance. VMware anticipates releasing it early next year.

The RIC platform is available in either centralized or distributed forms. The centralized RIC handles non-real-time events. “It will manage and host rApps that have control functions with response timing greater than one second,” said VMware. 

The distributed RIC handles near-real-time events. “It will manage and host xApps that have control functions with response timing less than one second, typically on the order of 10’s of milliseconds,” said VMware.

VMware RIC integrates with traditional RAN equipment and virtualized RAN network functions — even ones that aren’t O-RAN compliant.

Telco Cloud Platform expands

As 5G efforts pick up speed worldwide, VMware is making headway to get its Telco Cloud Platform and associated technology into CSPs’ hands. The company and Deutsche Telekom announced collaboration on virtual RAN (vRAN) efforts in 2020. VMware partnered with Intel to improve vRAN solutions integration. 

Then In April, VMware announced Telco Cloud Platform RAN. The system lets operators deploy and run virtualized network functions (VNFs) and containerized network functions (CNFs). VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN also helps CSPs virtualize RAN functions on a platform specifically optimized for the RAN. 

Dish Network is an early adopter of VMware’s Telco Cloud offering — the company’s greenfield 5G network is cloud-native and will use an O-RAN architecture for all RAN sites, according to Dish EVP Marc Rouanne. Dish selected VMware in 2020 for its Telco Cloud platform and its RAN technology. 

VMware RIC in 2022

VMware is hoping to stimulated xApp and rApp developer interest before the general VMware RIC release, which is expected to happen by next April. 
The new developer program will provide licenses, support, testing, and interoperability certifications. VMware expects to release RIC Software Development Kits (SDKs) in January. VMware’s early RIC development partners including Cohere Technologies, Polte, AirHop, and Cellwize.

VMware also announced a new partnership with Open RAN Labs operator Aspire Technologies “to accelerate and simplify testing and integration of Telco Cloud Platform RAN as part of a service provider’s end-to-end network.”