Evenstar: The highway to different RAN infra

  • Together with the mobile network operators Airtel and Vodafone as well as the technology partners ADI, Altiostar, Baicells, Flex, Mavenir, MTI, Parallel Wireless and Xilinx, we concentrate on the development of reference designs for general-purpose radio access networks (RAN) for 4G and 5G networks in the Open RAN Ecosystem.
  • This work is carried out as part of the Evenstar program.
  • The first product of the Evenstar Remote Radio Unit (RRU) has now completed laboratory validation and will next continue with field validation.
  • Additional RRU product SKUs are under development and engineering work has begun on the distributed unit (DU) design.

As the demand for Internet connectivity grows rapidly, the infrastructure that supports it must grow and improve. That was especially noticeable this yearWhen the COVID-19 pandemic brought people around the world online to school, work and stay connected. To connect the world to this type of infrastructure, we need to work together as a community. As a founding member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), we work closely with others in the industry to design, build and deploy flexible, efficient technologies.

As part of TIPs OpenRAN project groupWe are working to accelerate the path to the commercial deployment of simplified, flexible and efficient RAN technologies. With a flexible platform based on standard interfaces, OpenRAN is intended to enable operators to obtain hardware components from different providers in order to create their own solution. The approach is important to drive innovation and create more competition for hardware and software partners in order to more aggressively lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for operators.

We announced earlier this year that we would be Start the Evenstar program with industrial partners. Evenstar’s first RRU product has now completed laboratory validation. We are pleased that the momentum is growing and accelerating the adoption and deployment of OpenRAN.

A recent test run by Axiata of an Evenstar RRU in Sri Lanka.

Evenstar focuses on building a universal RAN reference architecture for 4G and 5G networks in the OpenRAN ecosystem. By decoupling the RRU hardware, the distributed unit (DU) and the control unit (CU), which are traditionally sold as a package, mobile network operators can select the best components and flexibly provide solutions to an increasing number of technology providers. The program aims to bring together a range of interested industry stakeholders to work towards a common goal of building a robust supply chain for alternative infrastructures for RAN.

Evenstar program framework

The main goal of the Evenstar program is to create a healthy, robust and sustainable alternative to existing RAN infrastructure offerings. The project aims to provide a comprehensive platform for the product lifecycle from requirements to production, including testing, validation and finally procurement. With Evenstar, Facebook Connectivity works with an ecosystem of cellular operators, silicon providers, original equipment manufacturers, original design makers, and contract manufacturers to develop RAN hardware Reference architecture and designs (for 4G and 5G networks) that match 3GPP and O-RAN Specifications. We started with RRU hardware and are now adding DU hardware to the next project to accelerate the adoption of OpenRAN.

In a conventional radio access network, the RRU hardware, the DU hardware and the CU software are sold as a package.  The goal of OpenRAN and the Evenstar program is to decouple these elements and provide alternative solutions that support standard interfaces.In a conventional radio access network, the RRU hardware, the DU hardware and the CU software are sold as a package. The goal of OpenRAN and the Evenstar program is to decouple these elements and provide alternative solutions that support standard interfaces.

Together with the mobile network operators Airtel and Vodafone as well as the technology partners ADI, Altiostar, Baicells, Flex, Mavenir, MTI, Parallel Wireless and Xilinx, we are working on the Evenstar RRU product portfolio, which includes various SKUs with 4G and 5G RRU. Mavenir recently led the laboratory validation of the First Generation Evenstar RAN product in collaboration with MTI, Facebook and Vodafone and demonstrated the Evenstar RRU in an OpenRAN laboratory environment that works with a DU solution via 7.2 interface. The next challenge is to validate on-site performance, with live network nodes carrying commercial traffic.

After completing this laboratory validation, we expect the second generation Evenstar RRU to be available in mid-2021. Shortly before the completion of the RRU product portfolio, the DU project for standard and dealer silicon-based configurations is running. We work with major silicon component suppliers to develop products that further increase the cost, size, and performance of RAN components.

What’s next for Evenstar?

We expect field trials and scaled deployments for OpenRAN to accelerate significantly in 2021. Evenstar plays an important role in reducing costs and increasing flexibility and efficiency at the component level for operators worldwide. As soon as the first components are available, operators will see the advantages of Evenstar firsthand. We hope that early positive experiences will lead to greater commercial acceptance of these early products, which in turn will help expand the network of OpenRAN suppliers. With Evenstar, we want to drive disruptive technological innovations to keep OpenRAN competitive in the long term and to offer operators more options.

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