On December 3, 2020, the i2CAT Foundation participated in the 2020 Mosaic5G Virtual Workshop. Mosaic5G is an ecosystem that integrates a series of open-source projects to study, create and support open and flexible 5G networks. Researcher Carlos Herranz Claveras presented i2CAT’s work on integrating FlexRAN, one of the components of Mosaic5G software, into i2CAT’s RACOON RAN controller. The intention of this integration effort is to be able to configure LTE and 5G cellular networks that use the OpenAirInterface open source RAN protocol stack, as well as restrict the use of certain radio resources to certain services.
During the presentation, i2CAT showed the OpenAirInterface demonstrator, which consist of an LTE cell shared with up to 6 operators, and each operator has its own LTE core network (EPC). A user provisioned with a physical SIM card belonging to one of the operators connected to this LTE cell can connect to the network through their carrier’s EPC. Each of these operators can be assigned number of radio resources. i2CAT has developed a solution that can detect new users connected to the cell and, through FlexRAN, allocate those users in their operator’s radio resources. In addition, i2CAT’s solution can dynamically change the allocation of resources to an operator. This way, the number of reserved radio resources can be smartly adjusted to the traffic conditions of each operator, making a more efficient management of the shared radio resources.
The integration of FlexRAN into RACOON also allows the automation of the deployment of an OpenAirInterface-based cellular network and does not require any kind of human intervention. At this point, we presented i2CAT’s vision of how FlexRAN fits into RAN standardization initiatives such as Open-RAN (O-RAN), which aims to harmonize the configuration and use of cellular base stations without relying on each vendor’s proprietary solutions.
In the scope of the Open-VERSO project, i2CAT introduced the multi-operator RAN proof-of-concept with a federation of virtual EPCs (vEPC). A user of the Open-VERSO platform can create its own virtual mobile national operator (MVNO). The platform creates a vEPC for the new operator somewhere within an Open-VERSO server pool. The selection of the server is determined based on the latency and capacity needs of the new operator. The new MVNO is allocated a quota of radio resources, for the exclusive use of the operator’s users. The management of this RAN quota carried out by RACOON through FlexRAN.
i2CAT’s presentation attracted the attention of workshop attendees, given the high number of questions asked to the presenter. The details and videos of the presentations are available at https://mosaic5g.io/workshop-2020/#program. The presentation slides are available at https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mosaic-5g_automating-oai-cellular-deployment-with-netconf-activity-6740261691369504768-dRfm.