With the continuous expansion of Open RAN’s (O-RAN) testing needs and requirement to deliver capabilities prior to product release, Spirent has extended our offerings and partnered with NI to develop the only O-RU (Open Radio Unit) comprehensive test solution in the market that performs application layer testing with any commercial device, providing real-time O-RU performance validation.
Theallows O-RU chipset and infrastructure vendors to validate real-world performance in the lab early in the development phase to efficiently verify each unit prior to manufacturing by utilizing the same NI high-performance software-defined radio (SDR) platform. Spirent's focus is to support development engineering, validation engineering, and performance benchmarking tools for equipment developers, test laboratories, system integrators, and carriers before manufacturing and deployment in the field. One of NI's key focus areas is on delivering support in the verification of volume final products as they exit production facilities. By building both offerings on NI's platform, we ensure consistent results throughout the development/manufacturing process.
Spirent’s O-RU Test Solution
Spirent’s comprehensivecan test the RU in wraparound mode by providing a fully compliant ORAN 7.2 interface and emulating the complete 3GPP RAN protocol stack, the application layer, the Core, CU, DU, and the UE for 4G, 5G NSA, and 5G SA.
All components are real-time and provide real emulation of the DU, CU, and Core in the live network. Users can “close the loop” with a UE emulator, which can be configured to any test scenario, or users can employ any commercial device, such as an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, to test any and all performance metrics. For example, users can test VoNR, video streaming, and conferencing to evaluate any delay, jitter, and quality issues. They can also perform gaming on the system with different devices to test any real-time interactive problems. The system supports all applications including YouTube, FTP, and media streaming. All components in the testbed [UE, RF channel emulator, RU (the device under test), DU, CU, Core] are fully automated using a single graphical user interface to provide wraparound RU testing and validation of true multi-vendor interoperability.
For advanced RU testing, an RF channel emulator can be added to create different scenarios to emulate real-world conditions, including fading and 3GPP-compliant channel models. This allows the O-RU solution to fully test real-world performance over and above testing requirements included in the standardization bodies. With the RF emulator, the Spirent O-RU Test Solution is uniquely able to evaluate important RF characteristics of an RU in real-world conditions. Examples include receiver sensitivity and dynamic range, which have a significant impact on live deployment and are key factors for cellular coverage and quality. With better sensitivity and dynamic range of the RU, cell coverage area is wider so it won’t be saturated by users near the cell and impact quality for users farther away. These are critical issues that all carriers are dealing with daily.
Test early in the lab
Identifying product issues during the final stages while testing in a live environment will delay deployment and offer poor quality or a bad user experience. Testing early in the lab is a crucial step that helps avoid loss of time and costs by eliminating the need for carriers to perform expensive, non-repeatable, and time-consuming drive testing in the live network. In addition, during lab testing, carriers can fully evaluate different RUs for performance and choose the best option for their network without spending resources and money to deploy them for field testing.
A key partnership
Bringing components of Spirent’s O-RU Test Solution into the manufacturing arena where NI has developed an O-RU production test solution will address critical testing gaps created by disaggregating the RAN and expand the market by unambiguously validating true multivendor interoperability.