Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo and compatriot firm NEC announced that they have expanded multi-vendor interoperability by interconnecting a new 5G base station baseband unit (5G-CU/DU), developed by NEC and Samsung Electronics and compliant with O-RAN Alliance specifications, with 5G base station remote radio units (5G-RUs) of other vendors on DoCoMo’s commercial network.
NTT DoCoMo and NEC noted that expanding multi-vendor interoperability based on O-RAN open interface specifications will enable the most appropriate base stations to be used depending on deployment scenarios and taking advantage of specific vendor and equipment characteristics.
The new 5G base station baseband unit from NEC, the partners said, is “interoperable with all existing vendors’ 5G base station remote units in DoCoMo’s network owing to its adoption of O-RAN open fronthaul specifications.” They said it is also compatible with all existing 4G base stations in DoCoMo’s network because of its adoption of O-RAN open X2 specifications.
Multi-vendor interoperability using O-RAN open fronthaul specifications was also confirmed for NEC’s macro-cell 5G-RU, which provides wide area coverage, and for NEC’s fronthaul multiplexer (5G-FHM), which copies and combines the fronthaul signals to and from multiple 5G-RUs to form a single area; both are new 5G base station equipment offerings.
During their collaboration, DoCoMo selected the test items, executed the multi-vendor interoperability tests, and analyzed the results; NEC and Samsung Electronics supplied the 5G base station equipment and analyzed the test results.
“The widespread adoption of O-RAN-compliant products will enable Docomo to build highly flexible networks and provide 5G services that meet customer needs,” said Naoki Tani, SVP of NTT DoCoMo. “The realization of multi-vendor interoperability with this new equipment developed by NEC and Samsung Electronics represents a significant step in the expansion of the O-RAN ecosystem. DoCoMo will continue to work with industry partners to promote open RAN and 5G services.”
“We are very pleased to have cooperated with Samsung Electronics in developing an O-RAN-compliant 5G base station that enables multi-vendor interoperability. NEC will utilize the O-RAN know-how acquired in this initiative to continue contributing to DoCoMo’s 5G network and the expansion of 5G networks worldwide,” Atsuo Kawamura, EVP at NEC and president of the company’s Network Services Business Unit.
Going forward, NTT DoCoMo, NEC, and Samsung will continue testing 5G base station equipment and communication systems scheduled for use in DoCoMo’s 5G commercial network.
NTT DoCoMo ended August with a total of 240,000 subscribers in the 5G segment after launching commercial services in March, the company’s President and CEO Kazuhiro Yoshizawa recently said during a conference call with investors.
At the end of the fiscal quarter ended June 30, the carrier had 150,000 5G customers, the executive said.
Yoshizawa said NTT DoCoMo expects 5G to start to reach mass market scale in the second half. The company is maintaining its target of 2.4 million 5G subscribers at the end of the financial year ending March 30, 2021.
NTT DoCoMo previously said it expects to reach 10,000 5G sites by June 2021 and 20,000 by March 2022.