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Test & Measurement

Viavi trumpets 'first' test tools for open RAN specs

Claims of telecom industry firsts always have to be treated with a degree of caution, but US-based network test vendor Viavi seems pretty confident it is offering what it describes as the "first comprehensive test suite" for open RAN (O-RAN) specifications.

Viavi highlighted that, as operators move away from simpler, single-vendor arrangements, ensuring interoperability in a multivendor open RAN environment "will become the network operator's principal concern, as they will be responsible for managing advanced coordination features, power control algorithms and intra-technology interactions."

In order to iron out open RAN problems, the vendor has identified various use cases to help identify, isolate and resolve any network performance issues before and after a multivendor-based O-RAN network is launched. Multivendor interoperability is a key area of focus, along with the evaluation of multiple RAN deployment options. Sameh Yamany, CTO at Viavi, said that while open RAN is designed to help operators overcome barriers in building 5G networks to scale, "operators need to be confident in managing interoperability and resolving problems across multiple vendors."

Viavi does have some solid open RAN credentials: It is a member of the O-RAN Alliance and is also one of several vendors supporting the upcoming launch of "the world's first end-to-end fully virtualized cloud-native network" by Rakuten Mobile, which today unveiled its aggressive pricing plans.

Although there is broad support for open RAN from industry heavyweights including Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone, concerns still remain about interoperability issues and that fact that open RAN technology is still way behind mainstream technology in terms of performance and scalability. The consensus, though, is that open RAN capabilities will improve in the coming years and that operators will deploy such technology in at least some parts of their 5G networks.

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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