TOKYO — KDDI CORPORATION, Samsung Electronics and Fujitsu Limited announced that the companies have turned on the world’s first(1) commercial 5G Standalone(2) (referred to as “5G SA” below) Open Radio Access Network (referred to as “Open RAN” below) site powered by virtualized Radio Access Network (referred to as “vRAN” below) in Kawasaki, Kanagawa on February 18, 2022, successfully completing the transmission of live 5G traffic.
For the deployment of this first site, KDDI used O-RAN compliant(3) solutions, including Samsung’s 5G virtualized CU (vCU) and virtualized DU (vDU) as well as Fujitsu’s radio units (MMU: Massive MIMO Units).
Virtualization and O-RAN technology replaces dedicated hardware with software elements that can run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. This brings flexibility and agility to KDDI’s network, allowing the operator to offer enhanced mobile services to its users. Additionally, this architecture will deliver reliability, while accelerating deployment of Open RAN throughout Japan, including in rural areas.
Beginning with this site, in 2022, KDDI, along with Samsung and Fujitsu, will deploy this Open RAN in some parts of Japan and continue its deployment and development, embracing openness and virtualization in KDDI’s commercial network.
Traditional RAN vs. Open RAN Configuration
5G technology powers new applications and use cases, such as XR, real-time services in the manufacturing sector (collection of sensor data, remote operation and factory automation) and connected services in the transportation sector (automated vehicles and traffic management). While the number of connected devices and mobile data traffic consumption is exponentially growing, due to the increase in usage, it is more important to build a network infrastructure quickly and cost-effectively.
Characteristics of this site
While traditional RAN uses hardware-based equipment, this Open RAN site leverages fully-virtualized RAN software, provided by Samsung, that runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. Furthermore, by pursuing an open network approach between radio units and baseband unit, KDDI used Samsung’s baseband and Fujitsu’s Massive MIMO Units, which are connected with an open interface.
Traditional RAN vs. Open RAN Configuration
– Fully-virtualized 5G RAN software can be swiftly deployed using existing hardware infrastructure, which brings greater flexibility in deployment. New 5G SA technologies–such as network slicing, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and others–powered by 5G vRAN, will deliver superior performance, higher speeds and lower latency, allowing KDDI users to experience a range of new next-generation services and immersive applications.
– Using an open interface between radio units and baseband unit, Open RAN not only ensures security and reliability but also enables operators to implement best-of-breed solutions from different partners and build an optimal network infrastructure for maximized performance.
– The virtualized network allows the use of general-purpose hardware (COTS servers) across the country, which will greatly increase deployment efficiencies. Additionally, by leveraging system automation, fully-virtualized RAN software can reduce deployment time, enabling swift nationwide expansion, including rural areas.
Comments from Kazuyuki Yoshimura, Chief Technology Officer, KDDI Corporation
“Together with Samsung and Fujitsu, we are excited to successfully develop and turn on the world’s first commercial 5G SA Open RAN site powered by vRAN. Taking a big step, we look forward to continue leading network innovation and advancing our network capabilities, towards our vision of delivering cutting-edge 5G services to our customers.”
Comments from Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics
“Leveraging our industry-leading 5G capabilities, we are excited to mark another milestone with KDDI and Fujitsu. Samsung stands out for its leadership in 5G vRAN and Open RAN with wide-scale commercial deployment experiences across the globe. While KDDI and Samsung are at the forefront of network innovation, we look forward to expanding our collaboration towards 5G SA, to bring compelling 5G services to users.”
Comments from Shingo Mizuno, Corporate Executive Officer and Vice Head of System Platform Business (In charge of Network Business), Fujitsu Limited
“The Open RAN-based ecosystem offers many exciting possibilities and this latest milestone with KDDI and Samsung demonstrates the innovative potential of next-generation mobile services with Massive MIMO Units. Fujitsu will continue to enhance this ecosystem, with the goal of providing advanced mobile services and contributing to the sustainable growth of our society.”
The companies will continue to strengthen virtualized and Open RAN leadership in this space, bringing additional value to customers and enterprises with 5G SA.
(1) This is the first commercial deployment using 5G SA with Open RAN and vRAN. (Based on Samsung’s market research as of Feb. 18. 2022)
(2) 5G Standalone (SA) mode refers to the network architecture that pairs 5G radios with a dedicated core for 5G
(3) O-RAN Alliance designated specifications for RAN interfaces that support interoperation between various vendors’ equipment