O-RAN Focus and Technical Work Groups Structure

5G, Future Network Optimization, Open RAN, Tech Fundas

O-RAN ALLIANCE is on the mission to re-shape the RAN industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and  interoperable networks. The O-RAN standards  are working to enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience, improve the efficiency of RAN deployments and network operations.

To achieve above, O-RAN ALLIANCE is active in following 3 main streams:

  • Specifications: New standards for open and intelligent RAN
  • O-RAN Software Community: Open software development for the RAN in cooperation with the Linux Foundation
  • Test and Integration: Supporting O-RAN member companies for testing and integrating of their O-RAN implementations

To streamline and make the processes smooth, O-RAN creating Focus Group and Technical Groups. There are 3 focus groups and 9 Technical workgroups as shown in following figure.

  • O-RAN Focus Groups work with the topics that are over-arching the technical workgroups or are relevant for the whole organization.
    • There are three focus groups:
      • Open Source Focus Group (OSFG)
      • Standard Development Focus Group (SDFG)
      • Test and Integration Focus Group (TIFG)
  • O-RAN Technical Workgroups provides specifications with detailed informations
    • O-RAN specifications work is divided into multiple technical workgroups
    • All Workgroups work under supervision of the Technical Steering Committee (TSC)
    • TSC  guides O-RAN technical topics and approves O-RAN specifications prior to the Board approval and publication.
    • TSC consists of Member representatives and the technical workgroup co-chairs, representing both Members and Contributors
    • Each of the technical workgroups covers a part of the O-RAN Architecture. The technical workgroups are open to all Members and Contributors.

Technical Workgroups Details

  • Workgroup#1: Use Cases and Overall Architecture Workgroup
    • WG1 has overall responsibility for O-RAN Architecture and Use Cases
    • It identifies the tasks to be completed within the scope of the Architecture and Use Cases and assigns task group leads to drive these tasks to completion while working across other O-RAN work groups.
    • The WG1 Operations, Administration and Maintenance architecture is based on a NETCONF session, where asynchronous notifications are sent using ONAP/3GPP defined VNF Event Stream (VES) events that are signaled using JSON/REST
  • Workgroup#2: Non-real-time RIC and A1 Interface Workgroup
    • WG#2  focus includes both the non-RT RIC and the A1 interface.
    • The primary goal of non-RT RIC is to support non-real-time intelligent radio resource management, higher layer procedure optimization, policy optimization in RAN, and providing AI/ML models to near-RT RIC and other RAN functions.
    • Three key use cases are currently being discussed for the non-real time RIC:
      • Traffic Steering
      • QoE optimization Use Cases
      • 3D-MIMO system configuration
    • The A1 interface supports communication and information exchange between the Orchestration/NMS  layer containing non-RT RIC and the eNB/ gNB containing near-RT RIC.
    • A key objective of the A1 interface is to support policy-based guidance of near-RT RIC functions/use-cases, transmission of enrichment information in support of AI/ML models into near-RT RIC, and basic feedback mechanisms from near-RT RIC
  • Workgroup#3: Near-Real-time RIC and E2 Interface Workgroup
    • WG#3 focus is to specify near-RT RIC open architecture and its functionalities, the Radio-Network Information Base and Network Topology, and modular on-boarding of new control applications
    • WG3 also specifies the E2 interface between near-RT RIC and CU/DU protocols stack
  • Workgroup#4: Open Fronthaul Interfaces Workgroup Work Group
    • WG#4 specifies the Open Fronthaul Interface between O-DU and  O-RU.
    • WG#4 provided open fronthaul interface specifications for the lower layer split, including Control, User and Synchronization (CUS) plane protocols, Management (M) plane protocols, and  Multivendor IOT specifications, supporting both LTE and 5G NR
  • Workgroup#5: Open F1/W1/E1/X2/Xn Interface Workgroup
    • WG#5 is refining the definition of 3GPP’s F1 interface for supporting the Higher layer Split for 5G NR.
    • It is ensuring that the 3GPP split interfaces remains truly inter-operable between vendors, the focus is on F1, W1, E1, X2, and Xn interfaces
    • WG5 has defined interoperable X2 profiles to enable multi-vendor deployments of NSA 5GNR
    • One of the key challenges in 5G introduction is the lack of multi vendor NSA systems that will be typically used in the vast majority of deployments for 5G introduction. This lack of multi-vendor NSA means that operators are forced to source their 5G RAN equipment from the same vendor supplying their 4G RAN.
    • WG5 publications provide profiles for the eNB to NR Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) related C-plane procedures and functions together with U-Plane  specifications to achieve interoperability among different vendors.
    • The profile specifies the expected behavior of each node (e.g., call flow of each use case, definitions of Information Elements, etc.) which is not specified in 3GPP specifications
  • Workgroup#6: Cloudification and Orchestration Workgroup
    • “Cloudified” or “Virtualized”  of RAN provides the flexibility of deploying multiple software implementations from different vendors on a common CPU-based (e.g., x86/ARM) platform with hardware accelerators (e.g., FPGA/DSP/ASIC/ GPU) for specific functions, and conversely, allows multiple physical deployment scenarios in terms of centralizing or distributing each element with the same software implementation
    • WG 6 “Cloudification” is to identify use cases that will demonstrate the benefits of hardware and software decoupling of all O-RAN elements (including RIC, O-CU, O-DU, O-RU and all deployment scenarios
    • It also develop requirements and reference designs for the cloud platform including the NFVI , VIM (container/VM orchestration), and Accelerator Abstraction layers
  • Workgroup#7:  White-box Hardware Workgroup 
    • WG#7 specify and release the complete hardware reference design of a high performance, spectral and energy efficient white box base station
    • Within this scope, any kind of design material is included, such as documentation of reference hardware and software architectures, detailed schematic of reference designs and POC hardware, as well as test cases for verification and certification of all base station types and usage scenarios.
    • Component selection for the implementation of example white box hardware is allowed for WG7 but is not mandatory in any specification
    • WG#7 Draft Specifications proposed for adoption as O-RAN Alliance Final Specifications do not include mandatory requirements to use specific chipsets or components
  • Workgroup#8: Stack Reference Design Workgroup
    • WG#8 goal is to develop the software architecture, design, and release plan for the O-CU and ODU based on O-RAN and 3GPP specifications for the NR protocol stack
    • WG#8 first deliverable introduces RAN deployment scenarios and requirements, describing RAN features and various functional blocks for O-RU, O-DU and O-CU.
  • Workgroup#9: xHaul Transport Workgroup
    • WG#9 focus is on the transport domain consisting of transport equipment, physical media, and control/management protocols associated with the transport network underlying the assumed Ethernet interfaces (utilized for fronthaul, mid-haul and backhaul)
    • It also specifies deployment architectures, requirements, and solutions, identifies gaps and proposals towards existing transport Standards
    • It coordinates requirements from other WGs, negotiating as necessary to align requirements among the other WGs
    • Deliver transport specifications including technical requirements, architecture, key components, management and control protocol for the various scenarios with potential solutions (e.g. PON, xWDM, DOCSIS, etc.) in support of open interfaces
    • Non-traditional network definitions including microwave and air-to-ground links
    • open-design specifications and multi-vendor interoperability in transport domain
    • Definition of security handling on the networks related to the transport network,
    • Network topologies including tree and ring structures, and performance (e.g. timing) budgets for the various topologies,
    • Identify gaps in existing standards and drive requirements/use cases into relevant transport standards development organizations, such as  ITU-T or  IEEE etc


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