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NTT DOCOMO to Add Fourth Virtualized Base Station to Open RAN Verification Environment

NTT DOCOMO, announcedthat it will be adding a fourth type of flexible and highly scalable virtualized base station to its verification environment for open radio access networks (Open RAN) that allow equipment and components of various vendors to integrate via standardized specifications.The new virtualized base station will combine NEC Corporation’s open virtualized RAN software, Red Hat Openshift, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s inline accelerator cards and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s servers. This will be DOCOMO’s first time to use the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and the HPE ProLiant DL110 Telco server, the latter optimized specifically for Open RAN workloads to improve system performance and power efficiency.

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Since February, DOCOMO has been providing global carriers with access to its Shared Open Lab environment to allow them to mix and match the equipment and components of various vendors in order to verify performance with virtualized base stations. In addition to three types of virtualized base station equipment/system configurations that carriers have been accessing so far, the new configuration will become available for verification in the Shared Open Lab starting in 2023.

“HPE is pleased to be collaborating with NTT DOCOMO and our other strategic partners to further the advancement of Open RAN and address the demands of 5G,” said Phil Cutrone, SVP and GM of OEM and Compute, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “With operators looking to address TCO and system integration risks in order to adopt vRAN, this Open RAN solution in close collaboration with NEC, Qualcomm Technologies, and Red Hat enables operators like NTT DOCOMO to achieve their objectives as they expand vRAN deployments in their 5G networks.”

“NEC is honored to work with our close partner, NTT DOCOMO, and other industry leaders on this new implementation,” said Patrick Lopez, NEC’s VP of 5G Products. “As Open RAN pioneers and leaders, demonstrating how disaggregated, multi-vendor components can operate together within open ecosystems is a key part of our collective approach. This new open virtualized RAN software implementation will open the door to next-generation performance and power savings.”

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“Red Hat is committed to collaborating with an open ecosystem of industry leaders and partners to further enable cloud-native, open source innovation and provide service providers with a stable foundation for connectivity from the core to the edge,” said Honore LaBourdette, vice president, Telco, Media and Entertainment, Red Hat. “Red Hat OpenShift is the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, offering the flexibility and scalability needed to support network functionality at scale. We are pleased to collaborate with NTT DOCOMO and other industry leaders to further accelerate Open RAN.”

“Building on our shared vision to drive the development of the modern 5G network, we’re very pleased to expand our longtime relationship with an industry leader like NTT DOCOMO to verify and test our Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card alongside solutions from NEC Corporation, Red Hat, and HPE,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, cellular modems and infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Equipping our industry-leading customers with cutting-edge technology to deliver superior user experiences is at the core of Qualcomm Technologies and this collaboration is a step forward for the entire ecosystem as it will help accelerate global adoption of virtualized and Open RAN.”

As the increasing global availability of 5G continues to raise interest in Open RAN, DOCOMO has been a leader in helping telecoms worldwide to prepare to introduce this highly versatile new technology. In February 2021, DOCOMO was joined by 12 global equipment vendors in establishing the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem (OREC) to promote Open RAN, which supported the development of the virtualized base station being announced today.

DOCOMO and its OREC partners plan to continue adding new equipment/system combinations before and after commercializing virtualized base stations, which is expected within the current fiscal year ending in March 2023.

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