Revolutionizing Wireless Networks: The Evolution of Samsung’s vRAN

The evolution of vRAN is transforming the landscape of mobile networks.

June 21, 2023

6 Min Read
Revolutionizing Wireless Networks: The Evolution of Samsung’s vRAN

The evolution of vRAN is transforming the landscape of mobile networks. Traditional Radio Access Networks (RAN) rely on proprietary hardware and software, making them not as simple to update. vRAN is built on software-defined networking principles, enabling a more efficient use of resources, lower deployment costs, faster service delivery, and greater flexibility to respond to changing network demands. As a result, vRAN is rapidly gaining popularity, revolutionizing how mobile networks are designed and operated. Samsung has been at the forefront of this revolution, pioneering advancements in vRAN technology for years.

Samsung introduces virtualized radio access network solution

In 2017, Samsung's introduction of its Virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) marked a significant milestone in the evolution of mobile networks. Samsung recognized the potential of virtualization technology and sought to develop an innovative solution to provide operators with architecture options that addresses some of the key challenges of traditional RAN.

Samsung virtualized central unit (vCU) was at the core of its vRAN solution that we introduced as part of vRAN 1.0. Virtualized network functions such as the Central Unit (CU) was designed based on software-defined networking (SDN) architecture, allowing it to run on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. This virtualization of network functions reduced the need for dedicated hardware, resulting in a more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solution. Samsung's vRAN solution enabled operators to quickly deploy new services and optimize network performance, improving the overall customer experience.

Samsung redefines the mobile network with vRAN 2.0

Samsung's introduction of vRAN 2.0 represented another significant milestone in the evolution of mobile networks. Building on the success of its original vRAN solution, Samsung's vRAN 2.0 was aimed at addressing the increasing demands of 5G networks and the challenges associated with deploying and managing them.

Samsung's vRAN 2.0 solution was launched in 2020 and generated significant interest in the mobile industry. This cloud-native O-RAN-compliant solution was praised for its innovative approach and has since been deployed by leading mobile network operators in large-scale commercial networks across Europe, Asia, and North America. With the second iteration, Samsung continued its virtualization of hardware components, this time with the distributed unit (DU), as it is difficult without an ASIC chipset due to the high computing power requirement of the DU. Marking an industry first, this success made Samsung the only vendor to offer a 100% fully virtualized, cloud-native disaggregated DU and CU. The vRAN 2.0 solution was integrated with massive MIMO radios (both Samsung's and 3rd party) and supported 2G, 4G, and 5G.

Samsung's vRAN 3.0 enables a more flexible and scalable network

As the mobile industry continues to evolve, Samsung is once again pushing the boundaries with the introduction of its vRAN 3.0 solution. It was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in 2023 and has generated significant interest in the industry. Continuing the momentum of its successfully deployed previous vRAN solutions, Samsung's smarter vRAN 3.0 is designed to meet the rising expectations of 5G and beyond. The solution incorporates advanced technologies such as network slicing, edge computing, and advanced analytics to deliver unparalleled network performance, flexibility, scalability and energy efficiency. It provides operators with improved automation and orchestration tools, enabling them to manage better and optimize resources, resulting in a more energy efficient and reliable network.

Samsung’s vRAN 3.0 has enhanced software capabilities, delivering improved performance. Performance optimization includes support for wider bandwidth, more than tripling the support seen on its 64T64R massive MIMO radios - now capable of supporting up to 6 x 100 MHz cells within one server.

The Samsung Cloud Orchestrator solution is an integrated automation platform responsible for the lifecycle management of end-to-end network domains, and provides a ‘single pane of glass’ view. It also brings OPEX savings to operators as vRAN 3.0 allows multiple parallel deployment of clusters remotely and automates the installation including Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) servers, Container as a Service (CaaS), and cloud-native network functions (CNF). vRAN 3.0 supports several tools to enable energy efficiency, including:

• CPU Core Sleep Mode, which puts unused CPU cores to sleep during periods of low data traffic.
• Adaptive Core Allocation, which assigns a number of CPU Cores at cell setup proportional to the number of active cells. Unassigned or unused CPU Cores are set to turn off to reduce power consumption.
• Energy Saving Manager (ESM), which is an orchestration tool that manages multiple energy-saving features in one platform and works in multiple network configuration. It also optimizes efficiency without service interruption and automatically analyzes hourly traffic patterns. By doing so, the ESM continuously optimizes each energy-saving feature's operating conditions per sector and time of day.

Samsung’s newest vRAN also includes VISTA, a suite of AI-powered analytics tools that perform network data collection, analysis, and closed-loop optimization to improve network performance.

Samsung's vRAN 3.0 solution is a game-changer in the mobile industry, delivering faster, more reliable, and energy efficient services to customers. With its enhanced capabilities, Samsung can support smarter management and operation of wide-scale commercial virtualized networks as more operators seek to meet the next-generation network demands of their customers. The solution helps operators address the increasing needs of 5G networks and deliver new services such as augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and smart cities. Samsung's vRAN 3.0 represents a significant step forward in the evolution of mobile networks and is poised to shape the mobile industry's future. Samsung plans to launch its new vRAN capabilities to global operators, beginning its rollout in North America in the first half of 2023.

Conclusion

Samsung established itself as a leader in the development of vRAN solutions. Since the introduction of its vRAN 1.0 solution six years ago, the company has continued to push the boundaries of virtualization technology, introducing new and innovative features with each new release. Samsung's vRAN solutions have been praised for delivering improved network performance, scalability, energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

One of the critical factors driving Samsung's leadership in the development of vRAN solutions is its investment in research and development. The company has a dedicated team of engineers and researchers who are focused on developing new technologies and features to enhance its vRAN solutions. Samsung's investment in R&D has enabled it to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving mobile industry, and its vRAN solutions have become a benchmark for others to follow.

Samsung's leadership in the development of vRAN solutions has been recognized by the mobile industry, with several leading network operators choosing Samsung as their preferred vRAN partner. It is the only equipment manufacturer with vRAN and O-RAN deployments with Tier 1 Operators in North America, Asia, and Europe, and the only manufacturer with commercial deployments supporting massive MIMO with vRAN. As the mobile industry continues to evolve, Samsung is well-positioned to lead the way in developing vRAN solutions that meet the needs of operators and customers alike.

— Sanil Ramachandran, Director of Technology, Networks Business, Samsung Electronics America

This content is sponsored by Samsung.

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