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Ontix and Mavenir create pilot scheme for Open RAN neutral hosting

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Everyone from end users to enterprise customers despairs of getting decent indoor connection

Network software developer Mavenir and infrastructure service provider Ontix are testing an Open RAN system that offers neutral host in-building connectivity.

The system, which runs on Mavenir’s MAVair native cloud virtualisation system, will run at Ontix’s data centre in Central London while small cell units run at an Ontix customer building. The rationale is to let Ontix create indoor mobile connectivity options for multi-tenanted offices, shopping malls, stadiums, hospitals, enterprise buildings and hot spots. The objective is contiguous coverage and high-speed mobile connectivity for clients ranging from ‘enterprise customers to end consumers’.

High quality mobile connectivity continues to be an elusive quality indoors. The challenges for operators and building owners include large crowds of people in a building, impenetrable construction materials and remote locations, all of which will affect signal strengths. The objective of the Ontix-Mavenir joint venture is to provide quality of service for all users, irrespective of the carrier they subscribe to. The key to this is to use neutral host solutions.

Open RAN changes cell dynamics

Ontix and Mavenir will test the capacity for delivery from a neutral host in-building Open Virtualised Radio Access Network (Open vRAN). The tests will investigate the delivery and integration of Open RAN compatible, software upgradable small cells. Tests will concentrate on the in-building coverage and its capacity for data transport.

“Open RAN is changing the dynamics of how cellular solutions are designed and delivered and this deployment is at the cutting edge of the technology in the UK,” said Ontix CEO Patrick Bradd. Neutral host architecture could offer more flexibility, including the option to use any commoditised hardware. Which is exciting, said Bradd, as it can help to create the next generation of in-building networks.

Mavenir and Ontix are responding to massive demand from enterprises and consumers for mobile connectivity, especially in areas with poor indoor and in-building coverage, according to Stefano Cantarelli, Mavenir’s chief marketing officer.

Mavenir’s vRAN allows operators to build a virtualised network architecture with open standard interfaces so that hosting companies can build a neutral system from radio units made by different vendors. The vRAN platform saves clients time and money by using software running on commercial off the shelf hardware, which safeguards them from financially painful vendor lock in tactics.