The O-RAN ALLIANCE approved four new Open Testing and Integration Centres (OTIC) in North America. OTICs are vendor-independent, open, and qualified labs approved by the O-RAN ALLIANCE that issue awards in the O-RAN Certification and Badging Program, so that operators can deploy products at scale and with confidence. The new labs include:
- Northeastern University – the OTIC at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University promotes research, development, and testing of next-generation intelligent Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN). The OTIC within the Open6G hub is a resource for industry, academia, and government toward multi-vendor interoperability and validation of end-to-end control logic for programmable networks, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms. The OTIC provides testing equipment and services to validate disaggregated base stations and RAN Intelligent Controllers (RICs), including custom applications (i.e., xApps and rApps). Applications can be tested against different RAN implementations (including commercial and open-source stacks), in emulated or over-the-air environments. The OTIC platforms include Colosseum, the world’s largest wireless network emulator with hardware-in-the-loop, already showcased as a digital twin for multiple Open RAN tests and trials.
- Central Iowa (ARA) – the OTIC in Central Iowa (ARA) is hosted by the Center for Wireless, Communities, and Innovation (WiCI) at Iowa State University (ISU). It uses the newly deployed NSF funded ARA rural wireless platform and provides services for testing and integrating O-RAN technologies using state of the art wireless equipment and with the addition of agricultural and rural setting and equipment. To facilitate experimentation, ARA-OTIC has deployed multi-modal, long-distance, and high-capacity wireless x-haul platforms ranging from free space optical to mmWave and microwave bands, as well as advanced wireless access platforms such as low-UHF massive MIMO systems, software-defined-radio (SDR) and programmable commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) 5G systems, and open-source 5G-and-beyond software platforms to integrate modeling and simulation environments as well as management and decision systems. ARA-OITC is fully committed to promoting the openness of O-RAN in research and innovation by providing a unique platform.
- Salt Lake City (POWDER) – the OTIC in Salt Lake City (POWDER) supports end-to-end Open RAN testing in lab and field scenarios and has developed a Testing Orchestration and Testing Automation (TOTA) framework to provide streamlined, on-demand testing capabilities. OTIC services provided by POWDER include interoperability and end-to-end testing, badging and certification. The OTIC offers additional Open RAN related services including use case and proof-of-concept development and evaluation, functional testing in lab and field environments, and Open RAN intelligent ecosystem research, testing and development.
- Washington, DC/Arlington, VA – the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) xG Testbed at Virginia Tech, in partnership with AT&T, DISH Network, and Verizon, emphasizes programmability and interoperability, relying when possible on open interfaces and open-source software. Key capabilities include securing 5G and next-generation mobile networks, AI assurance, multi-vendor interoperability, conformance and performance testing, and an end-to-end intelligent RAN control-loop supported by an AI/ML framework. CCI’s OTIC features indoor and outdoor testing environments, which can validate disaggregated RAN components — O-RAN Centralized Unit (O-CU), O-RAN Distributed Unit (O-DU), O-RAN Radio Unit (O-RU) — Over-The-Air (OTA) across locations and transport networks. Researchers can test RAN components’ interaction with Radio Intelligent Controllers (RICs) and microservices/applications that are AI/ML-based (i.e., xApps and rApps). Related services include use case and proof-of-concept development and evaluation.
“The O-RAN ALLIANCE welcomes four additional OTICs to North America, bringing the worldwide total to 15,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, Chairman of the Board, O-RAN ALLIANCE. “The essential function of OTICs to certify and badge products complements the work of our operator members and contributing vendors to continuously develop products and operationalize O-RAN specifications.”