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May 24, 2024

SK Telecom, NTT Docomo unveil white paper on vRAN

PUBLISHED : February 21, 2024 - 09:27

UPDATED : February 21, 2024 - 09:31

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Takehiro Nakamura (left), chief standardization officer of NTT Docomo, and Yu Tak-ki, vice president and head of the Infra Tech Office of SKT, pose for a photo with the newly released vRAN joint white paper on Monday at the SKT headquarters in Seoul. (SK Telecom)

SK Telecom said Tuesday that it has jointly released a technical white paper with Japan's No. 1 mobile operator, NTT Docomo, for the adoption of the virtualized Radio Access Network.

The joint white paper, titled “Key Considerations for vRAN,” marks two years of cooperation on the metaverse, mobile network infrastructure and media business since the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2022.

VRAN, a technology that incorporates various network functions of radio access network equipment in software form, is intended to meet the telecom industry’s growing need for the advancement of 5G and the standardization of future networks like 6G.

Virtual base stations are a core element of open RAN and an essential technology in the process of 5G advancement and 6G standard establishment.

"This meaningful white paper reflects practical considerations and efforts for the development of core areas of Open RAN from the perspective of operators," Vice President and Head of Infra Tech Office of SKT Yu Tak-ki said. "We plan to continue leading the global open RAN ecosystem through close collaboration with global operators."

Unlike traditional base stations, which require matching hardware and software manufacturers, vRAN offers the advantage of being implementable with only necessary software installed on universal servers.

As vRAN still has room for improvement in capacity and power consumption compared to conventional base stations, the paper outlines essential elements required for enhancing the performance of vRAN — such as advancements in hardware accelerator technology, development of specialized virtualization techniques and considerations for evolving toward 6G.

The telecom giants foresee advancements in hardware accelerator technology, a critical component of vRAN, which will improve cell capacity and power consumption of vRAN through various evolutionary directions such as accelerator-embedded CPUs and in-line accelerators.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom and NTT Docomo plan to leverage insights from the white paper during discussions at the upcoming MWC Barcelona 2024 trade show, aiming to stimulate the global open RAN ecosystem.

By Park Se-ra (serap1005@heraldcorp.com)

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