AirHop and Capgemini Collaborate to Advance Open RAN RIC and rApp Development

AirHop and Capgemini Collaborate to Advance Open RAN RIC and rApp Development

The size of the global Open RAN market is anticipated to increase from USD 1.1 Billion in 2022 to USD 15.6 Billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 70.5% over the forecast period as per a recent report from MarketsandMarkets. The benefits of Open RAN such as lower Capital Expense (CapEx) and Operational Expense (OpEx), improved network performance, and a more expansive ecosystem of suppliers are driving its market growth.

Capgemini has been ranked as a leading vendor in the O-RAN RIC space as per a recent survey for its maturity, stability, and interoperability of the platform with respect to the continuously changing specifications in the O-RAN ecosystem. While Capgemini has participated in multiple O-RAN PlugFests to demonstrate a variety of use cases, the RATIO platform (Capgemini RAN Intelligent Controller) is becoming a preferred choice to integrate third-party rApp/xApp and build innovative solutions in this space.  This is helping to establish a rich ecosystem of disaggregated components to drive faster innovations across the layers of the RAN.

Recently, Capgemini established collaboration with AirHop Communications, a leading provider of Open RAN automation and optimization software solutions. AirHop’s Auptim portfolio provides use cases spanning different domains of RAN automation and optimization including configuration optimization, mobility optimization, coverage and capacity optimization, automated energy savings and operations automation. Recent reports published by Omdia and {Core Analysis} highlight AirHop as the leader in deploying its xApps and rApps on RIC platforms across the O-RAN ecosystem.

One of AirHop’s solutions is an rApp for Physical Cell Identity (PCI) Optimization to automatically detect and resolve PCI collisions and confusions. It has been integrated with Capgemini Non-RT RIC as an rApp to demonstrate the efficiency in network performance. Efficient frequency planning, resource optimization and maintaining network performance in a large and complex network are of major concern to Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Small changes in a network can lead to inconsistency and conflict, resulting in network performance degradation. PCI conflicts are one of the major challenges in the RAN network that can lead to an increase in dropped-call rate due to failed handovers, as well as an increase in blocked calls and channel interference. It also slows down the deployment of new cells, impedes the launching of new services, and impairs the performance of existing cells. Hence, a solution is required, which can automatically and efficiently detect and resolve the PCI conflicts due to collisions and confusions in the 4G/5G RAN.

The AirHop PCI rApp, which is deployed on the Capgemini Non-RT RIC, automatically and efficiently detects PCI confusion and collisions during critical CSP scenarios to speed up new cell deployments and improve the performance of UE mobility in the network.

Capgemini Non-RT RIC provides the ecosystem that allows the user to onboard and manage the life cycle of the rApps using the easy-to-use GUI. The Capgemini Non-RT RIC platform provides an enriched SDK and R1 interface for third-party rApp developers to access the data from O1 Interface, which includes Configuration Management (CM), Performance Management (PM) and Fault Management (FM) details available from different systems like SMO, EMS and O&M. The abstraction layer that the RIC provides to the application developers really accelerates the pace of RAN innovation.

The extensive SDK available with the non-RT RIC platform enables seamless integration with third-party rApp vendors. This SDK enables various operations for onboarding, discovery, subscription, network monitoring, and rApp lifecycle management. While integrating AirHop’s PCI Optimization rApp, Capgemini’s SDK provided the rApp the key functionalities to retrieve the node & cell configuration, and network relationships of neighboring cells and apply the PCI algorithm to detect confusions and collisions and control/optimize the PCI value across the network.

O-RAN ALLIANCE Global PlugFests are periodic events organized and co-sponsored by O-RAN ALLIANCE to enable efficient progress of the O-RAN ecosystem through well-organized testing and integration. Vendors and providers come together to test, evaluate and verify their products and solutions. Capgemini and AirHop Communications jointly participated in the O-RAN ALLIANCE Global PlugFest Fall 2023, in the i14y Lab in Berlin, Germany – supported by Deutsche Telekom and EANTC and i14y consortium partners – to demonstrate “automatically and efficiently detection of PCI confusion and collisions” using AirHop PCI optimization rApp. The AirHop PCI rApp, which was deployed on the Capgemini Non-RT RIC Framework, automatically and efficiently detected PCI confusion and collisions during critical CSP scenarios to speed up new cell deployments and improve the performance of UE mobility in the network.

Capgemini Non-RT RIC Framework exposed R1 APIs and the simple-to-use ecosystem to allow AirHop PCI rApp to manage, onboard and register itself with the platform.

  • Capgemini Non-RT RIC provided the APIs and ecosystem through which AirHop PCI rApp could query the cell configurations and get the notification for the cell configuration change.
  • AirHop PCI conflict detection Algorithm detected and resolved the PCI confusion and collisions.
  • Capgemini Non-RT RIC Framework provided the APIs through which AirHop PCI rApp could control/update/optimize the PCI values across the network.

Earlier this year, at MWC Barcelona 2023 O-RAN Virtual Exhibition, Capgemini already demonstrated a couple of use cases with their partners to showcase an expanded portfolio of field-proven solutions. AirHop also demonstrated the integration of rApps with several of its other RIC partners. CSPs can really accelerate the time-to-market and optimize their overall network reconfiguration time by using such pre-integrated solutions, which are fully aligned with the O-RAN ALLIANCE specifications. CSPs can also leverage such solutions for doing lab trials, including R&D-related activities.

Collaborations between RIC vendors and application vendors in an Open RAN ecosystem accelerate rapid innovations and adoption of Open RAN. Capgemini and AirHop view the RIC and rApps/xApps as critical enablers for CSPs to tap into multi-vendor innovation—and to truly benefit from Open RAN.