Altiostar breaks down its vRAN into containers

A cloud native RAN? Welcome to containerised RAN functions, node orchestration, CUPS, microservices, cloud native functions....

Altiostar, provider of the vRAN software for Rakuten Mobile’s 4G network, has said that it has developed a containerised version of is radio technology that Rakuten can exploit as it rolls out 5G.

Altiostar, Intel and Rakuten had a lot of work to do to create the initial solution that saw them virtualise the PHY layer of the Altiostar radio for deployment on Intel-based hardware from QCT. CTO Tareq Amin has previously, and again this week, described this process as “non trivial”, for instance requiring specific accelerations for near and real time processes.

Altiostar says it takes that virtualisation know-how and “further decomposes the network functions into containerised applications that are fast to deploy, can be individually upgraded and offer better network scalability”.

As well as giving operators more flexibility in terms of updates in a CI/CD environment, Altiostar says the micro-RAN cloud native approach can give operators the ability to focus on services and applications as they deploy a vRAN.

Ashraf Dahod, CEO of Altiostar Networks, said, “This new architecture will allow service providers to develop 5G services that are even more responsive to consumer needs over their entire network deployment lifecycle. We appreciate the support of Intel and Rakuten Mobile and look forward to deployment of this architecture in their 5G network.”

Tareq Amin, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Rakuten Mobile, said,  “A cloud-native microservice-based architecture will allow us to focus on identifying these 5G applications and services with the knowledge that the end-to-end network, including the RAN functions, has the modularity, flexibility and the agility to roll them out.”

The server platforms that drive the virtualization technologies in Rakuten Mobile’s network are based on high performance Intel Xeon Scalable Processors. As part of this project, Intel will release various Kubernetes plugins that facilitate RAN and MEC application containers on Intel architecture.

A press release from Altiostar said:
“The conversion from a virtual network function (VNF) to container network function (CNF) brings additional flexibility and scalability. Each vRAN CNF provides scalability thereby allowing MNOs to introduce Control Plane User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture into their network, which then allow them to size their deployments for the best economics knowing that they can easily grow as their customer base grows or change or scale their network to accommodate user traffic patterns.

“As an example, an IoT network with tens of thousands of devices, each executing micro-transactions, will lead to high control plane traffic compared to the total aggregate user plane data. MNOs can easily adapt to support this traffic pattern while accommodating video streaming users, which require more user plane and less control plane resources.”

“Altiostar’s vRAN CNFs provide a high degree of resiliency and redundancy as they can be run in an architecture across many nodes while being managed by an orchestrator that selects the best node depending on availability. This allows for efficient utilization of resources with scaling and load balancing across the many nodes where MNOs can adopt a pay-as-you-grow approach for hardware infrastructure for deploying 5G.”