AT&T and Nokia hailed the successful trial of a new RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) on the operator’s 5G network as proof of progress on a software technology expected to enable advanced functionality in open RAN systems.

The trial was conducted on AT&T’s commercial 5G network in New York City and comes 18 months after the companies announced a collaboration on developing open architecture-based RIC software.

A Nokia representative explained to Mobile World Live that while open RAN systems can function without it, the RIC allows operators to deploy third-party network applications known as xApps to optimise radio functions and create new services. Any vendor can create an xApp.

The companies tested a series of xApps including network data measurement, neighbour relation management and RAN control tools, without interrupting the commercial service.

Michael Clever, Nokia’s head of edge cloud platforms, said in a statement the trial “represents a major milestone toward the advancement of RAN network intelligence, openness and programmability”.

The RIC software already available to the open source community, but the Nokia representative said it will continue working with AT&T on further development of the system and help build an ecosystem of xApps.