NEC and Fujitsu cooperate to stimulate and expand the open 5G market

NEC and Fujitsu have begun developing technologies to verify base station equipment interoperability at their respective facilities in the UK and the US. NEC is conducting trials at its Open RAN laboratory in NEC Europe, London, while Fujitsu is doing so at its laboratory hosted at Fujitsu Network Communications, a Fujitsu group company in the US.

The initiative will be implemented as part of the “Post 5G Infrastructure Enhancement R&D Project” under the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan. Both companies are scheduled to build a verification environment using these technologies in their respective laboratories from August 2021 and will begin interoperability testing.

Leveraging this verification environment offers the potential to significantly streamline interoperability verification between base station equipment from different vendors.

With the start of 5G commercial services in various countries, post 5G – with enhanced functions such as ultra-low latency and multiple simultaneous connections – is expected to be used in a variety of industries. In recent years, base station equipment has become more open due to O- RAN fronthaul interface specifications formulated by the O-RAN Alliance (*4), and it is becoming possible to connect to RUs (radio units) and Central Units/Distributed Units (CUs/DUs) from a variety of vendors. However, in order to quickly verify interoperability between different vendors’ equipment, it is necessary to establish a verification process, develop tools that can be used in common, and to develop a verification environment.

Consequently, NEDO commissioned NEC and Fujitsu to conduct research on assessment and verification technologies for interoperability between base station equipment in the “Post 5G Infrastructure Enhancement R&D Project,” which is scheduled to run from FY2020 to FY2023. In response, NEC and Fujitsu are building an environment and developing technologies to assess and verify the interoperability of different vendors’ equipment and the impact of such connections on the entire network.

Technology characteristics

NEC and Fujitsu will develop technologies to verify the interoperability of various vendors’

equipment for O-RAN fronthaul. The technologies include FHA, P- DU, test scenario extraction tools, test parameter change tools, and validation result determination tools.  Introducing these technologies into the verification environments of both companies’ laboratories will make it possible to significantly improve the efficiency of interoperability verification for different vendors’ equipment.

Using NEC’s lab in the UK and Fujitsu’s lab in the US, it is possible to implement a Conformance Test System that can perform standard tests in accordance with O-RAN specifications and implement an End-to-End (E2E) Test System that can verify the connection from the core network to the terminal. In addition, by incorporating the newly developed technologies into the interoperability test systems, it will be possible to efficiently conduct system-wide normality verification and performance verification under conditions that are close to the commercial environments of each country and business.

Future plans

NEC and Fujitsu will establish a verification environment using new technologies in their respective laboratories from August of this year, and will begin interoperability testing. The two companies will collaborate with carriers, equipment vendors, and governments in various countries and regions, aiming to significantly reduce the time required to conduct interoperability testing for base station equipment. The companies will also work with NEDO to support the global adoption and development of equipment that conforms to O-RAN specifications through this project, thereby contributing to the stimulation and growth of the open 5G market.

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