Test and Measurement: Viavi steps up with O-RAN test support

Viavi Solutions, which is a member of the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Alliance, is bolstering the open RAN ecosystem with what it claims is the first comprehensive test suite for O-RAN specifications. The test company will be showcasing its O-RAN test prowess in an upcoming O-RAN Alliance virtual demonstration series that was supposed to be part of Mobile World Congress Barcelona.

The new O-RAN test offering includes modules for lab validation, field deployment and network assurance, according to Viavi. The company says it has been working closely with operators and vendors on O-RAN efforts and that as a result, it has “identified various use cases which can help identify, isolate and resolve any network performance issues before and after a multi-vendor based O-RAN network is launched.” Those key areas of focus include multi-vendor interoperability, system-level testing and subsystem-level testing; protocol compliance and performance monitoring for open interfaces and protocols; test automation for continuous integration and continuous delivery; and “holistic evaluation of multiple RAN deployment options,” Viavi said, including the choice of spectrum bands, features, vendors, RAN disaggregation and so on.

Because O-RAN environments will be multi-vendor rather than single-vendor environments, the company added, interoperability “will become the network operator’s principal concern” because they will have to manage moving parts including advanced coordination capabilities, power control algorithms and intra-technology interactions. While traditional single-vendor solutions simplified that and service providers only had to work with one vendor to resolve any product-related network performance issues, that won’t be the case in O-RAN implementations. Viavi said that additional challenges with a multi-vendor O-RAN environment will be network and resource management, integration of new functions and orchestration of new services.

“As we know, deployment and management of RAN is the most expensive part of a wireless network, which means current ways of network evolution, growth and maintenance will not scale to meet the opportunities of 5G,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO of Viavi Solutions. “O-RAN is a powerful vision to address this challenge, but in order for it to be fully realized, the operators need to be confident in managing interoperability and resolving problems across multiple vendors. The VIAVI O-RAN test suite, developed after our extensive work with the alliance as well as with our customers, will achieve that objective right out of the gate.”

The O-RAN Alliance held its first global plugfest event in December, and had planned an extensive series of demonstrations for MWC Barcelona, which was cancelled. Instead, those demonstrations are being retooled to be part of a virtual showcase, O-RAN Alliance said. Viavi’s O-RAN demo is focused on open fronthaul, with an O-RU emulator integrated with TM500 UE emulator which will be used to test the O-DU connected over O-RAN open fronthaul. The O-RAN Alliance noted that the “ability for vendors and operators to test the performance of gNBs based on O-RAN architecture independently of O-RUs will be key to accelerating commercialization of O-RAN technology.”

In other test news:

Global Wireless Solutions conducted its first-ever benchmark testing in the U.S. territory of Guam during December of 2019, testing the networks of local service providers DoCoMo, GTA, iConnect and IT&E’s networks. GWS found that DoCoMo offered both the most substantial coverage and the fastest data download speeds for tasks such as internet browsing and app-related activities.

Paul Carter, CEO and founder of GWS, called the testing “a success that will provide a solid baseline to measure future analysis against.”

GWS’ testing included 70,000 voice and data tests that used GWS’ OneMeasure app running on iPhones, as well as Rohde & Schwarz’s Qualipoc tests software using Samsung Galaxy devices, and GWS’ MobiStat data evaluation and reporting platform.

PCTel reported a strong fourth quarter in which it saw revenues up 8% compared to the same period last year, and improved its profitability, from a loss of about $9.1 million during last year’s fourth quarter to profits of nearly $1.8 million. Revenues in the fourth quarter were up 55% year-over-year for the company’s test and measurement product line, but its antenna revenues were down 7% year-over-year. For the full year of 2019, T&M revenue was up 68% compared to 2018.

“We are pleased with our performance in 2019 and year over year growth driven mainly by the success of our 5G testing solutions,” said David Neumann, PCTEL’s CEO, in a statement. “Antennas and radio solutions in our intelligent transportation and industrial IoT market segments are expected to drive growth over the long term as customers demand ultra-reliable connectivity for their IoT business critical systems.”

Anritsu has a new VP and GM for its Americas division: Robert Johnson, who has been serving as assistant general manager for Anritsu Americas, has been appointed to the position. Johnson will oversee all of the company’s operations in the region, including sales, marketing, business operations and technical field support; he has 25 years of experience in the industry and before working at Anritsu, served as a director at CETECOM. Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, and master’s degrees in business from Indiana Wesleyan University and Columbia Business School.

Napatech said that test and measurement company TOYO is using Napatech’s FPGA-based software and hardware in its 200 Gb portable monitoring solution for 5G networks.

“With network speeds increasing, many of TOYO’s high-end service provider customers need to test systems and infrastructures at 100 Gbps line rate. The company chose Napatech to accommodate this need, and TOYO’s customers can now generate highly reliable test results, while greatly enhancing efficiency,” said Jarrod Siket, Napatech CMO.

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