Skip to main content

KDDI and Wind River deploy new O-RAN 5G technology

Wind River, a leading developer of software that powers 5G mobile infrastructure, has announced a new partnership with Japanese telecom provider KDDI to deploy open 5G standards to its commercial customers.

This new arrangement will see KDDI using Wind River Studio to power its 5G network, providing a virtualized base station that’s compliant with the Open RAN (O-RAN) standard.

In practical terms, this means KDDI will have more flexibility in delivering 5G to its commercial customers without the need to deal with the complexities of making different pieces of 5G equipment interoperate with each other.

Worker in crane basket installing 5G antenna on building.
O-RAN Alliance

“We are pleased to announce that we have developed a 5G virtualized base station that complies with the O-RAN standard and has launched on our commercial network. KDDI aims to provide customers advanced communication services with flexibility and speed that meet usage needs with open and virtualize base stations,” said Kazuyuki Yoshimura, Chief Technology Officer, KDDI Corporation.

What is Open RAN?

Just like you can drive a car without knowing how the engine works or concerning yourself with the tools your mechanic uses to maintain it, most users don’t need to worry about the details of what goes into making a 5G network function. Suffice it to say, however, there are many pieces of hardware and software on the back-end that have to work together to deliver 5G service to your smartphone or tablet.

All this equipment collectively forms what’s called a Radio Access Network (RAN). One of the challenges telecom providers have faced in building out 5G networks is ensuring that all this equipment can work together seamlessly.

In the past, this usually meant that providers had to purchase everything from a single vendor. This not only tended to lock them in to a single family of products but also prevented them from using the best tool for the job.

For example, while one supplier might make a great 5G baseband unit for handling sub-6GHz 5G, there could be a better option from another vendor to handle the higher-range mmWave frequencies and the additional demands they place on a mobile network.

According to networking equipment maker Cisco, “Closed interfaces and monolithic hardware-based solutions limit progress and the ability [for carriers] to diversify their supply chain. This is a substantial challenge that must be resolved, especially since an estimated 70% of network CAPEX [capital expenditures] and OPEX [operating expenses] are associated with building and managing the RAN.”

To solve these issues, a sizable group of mobile operators, vendors, and others banded together to create the O-RAN Alliance with the goal of creating a standard for interoperable 5G network hardware across multiple vendors.

Graphic of carriers participating in the O-RAN Alliance.
O-RAN Alliance

A key aspect to accomplishing this is to separate the software and hardware layers, and this is where companies like Wind River come in. Wind River Studio is a “virtualized base station” that provides the underlying intelligence that allows carriers to build out more hardware-agnostic 5G systems.

As Paul Miller, Wind River’s Chief Technology Officer, notes, “5G opens up new opportunities, with greater intelligence and compute moving toward the edges of the network. Much of our future will be run on a virtualized, distributed cloud with low-latency, far edge cloud architecture to support new use cases in the new intelligent machine economy. We’re able to provide solutions to help prepare for a cloud-native future and deliver on high-reliability, ultra-low-latency, and highly efficient solutions for next-generation networks.”

The upshot of this is that telecommunications providers can lower their equipment and operating costs, which ultimately means more affordable 5G for consumers, while also being able to use best-of-breed equipment on the back-end to deliver top 5G performance.

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Hollington
Jesse has been a technology enthusiast for his entire life — he probably would have been born with an iPhone in his hand…
What is 5G UW? The real meaning behind the icon on your phone
Woman holding up smartphone with speed test results on Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network.

You've probably noticed that there's been much more hype around 5G than for any of the wireless technologies that came before. Some of that is just marketing, of course; we are living in an increasingly connected era, and there are far more people toting smartphones now than there were in 2012 when 4G/LTE was just beginning to go mainstream. However, it's also not an exaggeration to say that with considerably faster speeds and the ability to handle many more devices, 5G is a much bigger step into the next stage of global connectivity. You've also probably noticed it yourself with a "5G UW" icon at the top of your phone.

As with most new technologies, 5G comes with some new challenges for both carriers and consumers. One of the most significant of these has been working out the best way to deploy 5G services across the much wider range of frequencies that it's capable of operating on. This wasn't nearly as significant a problem in the days of 3G and 4G/LTE services, which all operated in a much narrower range of radio spectrum.

Read more
What is 5G? Speeds, coverage, comparisons, and more
The 5G UW icon on the Samsung Galaxy S23.

It's been years in the making, but 5G — the next big chapter in wireless technology — is finally approaching the mainstream. While we haven't yet reached the point where it's available everywhere, nearly all of the best smartphones are 5G-capable these days, and you're far more likely to see a 5G icon lit up on your phone than not.

There's more to 5G than just a fancy new number, though. The technology has been considerably more complicated for carriers to roll out since it covers a much wider range of frequencies than older 4G/LTE technology, with different trade-offs for each. It's also a much farther-reaching wireless technology, promising the kind of global connectivity that was once merely a dream found in futuristic sci-fi novels.

Read more
What is 5G UC? Here’s what that icon on your phone really means
5G logo on the Motorola Edge (2022).

If you own a 5G-capable smartphone — which are all of the best phones today — there’s a good chance you’ve seen different 5G network icons showing up in your status bar. It’s a stark contrast to the pre-5G days when your phone showed “4G” or “LTE” no matter where you went.

It can get a bit confusing to see a 5G indicator one moment and then “5G UC” or “5G UW” the next. It’s not something you need to worry too much about, as you don’t usually have much control over it, but it’s still helpful to understand what these different symbols mean — and why they matter.
The humble beginnings of 5G

Read more