Sprint announced its Kansas City headquarters will be home to one of three new Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) Community Labs, where it will conduct tests and trials to accelerate the development of open 5G NR RAN products.
Facebook and Telefonica will open two additional facilities in California and Spain, respectively, focused on integration and continuous deployment, increasing the total number of TIP labs to 12 globally.
Durga Satapathy, Sprint’s director of technology innovation and architecture and co-chair of TIP’s OpenRAN 5GNR Project Group, told Mobile World Live the lab will be used to test open 5G RAN prototype designs in the early part of 2020, with the goal of finishing a preliminary reference specification by the middle of the year.
The group is initially focused on developing sub-6GHz 5G NR small cells and macro cells for outdoor and indoor use cases, with mmWave solutions to follow.
Satapathy explained the push to disaggregate hardware and software and use interoperable components is driven in part by a desire to reduce costs for operators. But he added such a shift will also help bring new features to market faster and allow operators to work with smaller, innovative players.
“This speed of development, innovation and testing is what sets open RAN apart from traditional models, and is especially important for 5G where speed to deployment matters a lot.”
While progress is being made, Satapathy said a number of challenges still need to be addressed including intellectual property rights issues and interoperability with legacy equipment.
He added the shift to open design can also make troubleshooting and operation more complex for operators, since multiple vendors are involved in the network.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back