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Juniper Networks® and Vodafone Deliver Successful First-of-its-Kind Open RAN RIC Trial on a Commercial Network, Highlighting Third-Party Apps Integration

February 2023 by Marc Jacob

Juniper Networks announced that together with Vodafone, a pioneer in Open Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions, and Parallel Wireless, an Open RAN vendor fostering open interfaces, has achieved a successful field trial, validating both Admission Control and Traffic Steering applications running on top of the open and interoperable Juniper RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) platform. This trial, validated with live traffic on a Vodafone commercial network, is based on an open, software-driven architecture that demonstrates the power of openness and intelligence to effectively address the key business challenges faced by mobile operators today – OPEX control, service differentiation, customer experience and sustainability, among others.

The Admission Control use case combines both the rApp and xApp from Juniper, allowing real-time tracking and optimization of radio resources such as User Equipment (UEs)/tenant and Power Distribution Unit (PDUs)/tenant based on current traffic utilization. The application allows for the dynamic allocation of network resources without the need for over-provisioning all the way to specific customers, therefore improving resource management and network efficiency. As a result, operators can achieve cost savings with streamlined operations and reduced equipment needs while providing a higher quality of service to end users.

The Traffic Steering xApp from Parallel Wireless, in conjunction with Juniper’s rApp, enhances the user experience by dynamically and automatically distributing network load. Based on the traffic/cell conditions in Vodafone’s live network, throughput improvements of 40 percent were observed for users that were experiencing low performance due to cell overload, and an average of 15 percent to 30 percent improvement was observed across all users in the overloaded cell. This application efficiently utilizes operator resources to meet capacity demands without requiring manual intervention, thereby helping to reduce costs and to minimize errors.

Both use cases successfully demonstrate that user experience can be managed and optimized automatically by the RIC, based on real-time data insights. These use cases can be implemented uniformly across RANs in a multi-vendor environment. The ability to deploy innovative applications from third-party vendors on top of the Juniper RIC platform helps mobile operators and third-party apps unlock the full potential and benefits of Open RAN.

Sustainable networking is imperative for mobile operators, and successful RIC trials in Open RAN networks such as this one will help drive more energy-efficient and sustainable operations. RIC applications such as Admission Control can lower RAN energy consumption by avoiding over-provisioning of resources to handle peak traffic. Likewise, the Traffic Steering application allows efficient utilization of network resources to meet capacity demands while avoiding additional capital investments. These applications can also lower the overall RAN energy consumption, contributing to the achievement of mobile operators’ sustainability targets.

Vodafone and Juniper Networks will embark on the next phase of collaboration on the Radio Intelligence Controller with the development of advanced use cases such as energy saving and mMIMO optimization. The collaboration will also involve validating third-party rApp/xApp vendors using SDK and APIs exposed by the Juniper RIC.

All three organizations are active operators/contributors of the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), underlining their shared commitment to industry innovation and standards.

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