The Open RAN Simulation Platform Is Now Available

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enables thorough, end-to-end simulation of an O-RAN Near Real-Time RAN Intelligent Controller (Near-RT RIC)–optimized 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) over E2.

The first open source platform for end-to-end simulation of 5G wireless networks powered and optimised by Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) components, ns-O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network Simulator), has been made available to the public by researchers at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University.

The O-RAN standards-compliant Near-RT RIC is interfaced with using the ns-O-RAN emulator, which combines ns-3 with O-RAN-compliant features including the E2 application protocol and service models. This project is the product of a partnership between Mavenir, a member of the WIoT Industry Consortium and the Open6G initiative led by WIoT, and the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) of Northeastern University.

The widely used open source network simulator ns-3, which simulates all the layers of the RAN protocol stack as well as core network operations and mobile traffic applications, and its 5G module from the University of Padova and NYU, which enables the LTE-5G NR dual connectivity RAN protocol stack on ns-3, serve as the foundation for the ns-O-RAN simulator.

With the help of extensive modelling of the entire 3GPP RAN protocol stack and large-scale 5G simulations based on 3GPP channel models, ns-O-RAN has been conceived and developed to enable the integration of O-RAN software, such as Mavenir’s Near-RT RIC. This enables RAN Key Performance Metrics (KPMs) data collection at scale, in various simulated circumstances, and with various applications (e.g., multimedia streaming, web browsing, wireless virtual reality, etc). Two E2 service models (E2SM), E2SM-Key Performance Metrics (KPM) monitoring and E2SM-RAN Control (RC), which enable a closed-loop control, are implemented by ns-O-RAN and support an O-RAN-compliant E2 interface (for example, of traffic steering and mobility).

The WIoT-developed toolkit for investigating intelligent Open RAN systems includes ns-O-RAN. Notably, ns-O-RAN broadens the capabilities of OpenRAN Gym to include simulation. In order to enable end-to-end design and testing of data-driven xApps, OpenRAN Gym is a publicly accessible framework that integrates massive experimental testbeds, software-defined RAN, and O-RAN frameworks.

On experimental testbeds that are open to the public, such as Colosseum and the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) testbeds, it has been used to build and showcase xApps for RAN slicing and spectrum management. The deployment of intelligent xApps taught on wireless emulation platforms on an over-the-air network without the requirement for retraining has also been demonstrated using OpenRAN Gym. The OpenRAN Gym toolbox will gain a new component from simulation with ns-O-RAN, greatly enhancing the wireless research community’s ability to collect data and test xApps.


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