Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / Research / 5G / 2024 RIC Forum

RIC Forum, March 26–28, 2024

RIC Forum logo

Vision

Authentic xApp and rApp demonstrations to showcase the current state of Open RAN RIC xApps and rApps.

Resources

  • The RIC Forum booklet, available here, provides details of the RIC App demos, speakers, and panelists.
  • Video recordings of the RIC Forum sessions are temporarily available to registered attendees.

Introduction

The RIC is a radio access network (RAN) Intelligent Controller in an Open RAN network. RIC Applications (Apps) manage network functions in near-real time (xApps) and non-real time (rApps), providing network programmability to maximize performance.

ITS, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense’s FutureG Office, hosted the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) Forum in Dallas, Texas, from March 26 to 28, 2024.

The 2024 RIC Forum brought government, military, telecommunications infrastructure vendors, and academia to view live technical demonstrations and to discuss the current state of the Open RAN market.  

Insights

The vision of the RIC Forum was Authentic xApp and rApp demonstrations to showcase the current state of Open RAN RIC xApps and rApps. Live App demos provided attendees assurances that they were seeing actual network responses—not simulations. These live demos showcased how RIC xApps and rApps will give 5G networks unprecedented flexibility to dynamically adjust network performance.

Impressively, all of the live demonstrations worked, and the fact that they were not seamless confirms that these were real demos of actual systems. This goes a long way toward demonstrating the readiness of RIC xApps and rApp for commercial deployment.

We saw new ideas put forward, such as concepts for dynamic service models and formal verification of App security. These ideas promise to stimulate discussion in industry and at the ORAN ALLIANCE. We saw diverse use cases, including spectrum management, cybersecurity, energy saving, frequency band management, traffic steering, policy-based prioritization, and quality of service.

New dimensions of competition are surfacing. Several RIC players pointed out their ability to support third party development, but all went further to play up the capabilities of their development environment and support infrastructure as making things easy for the app developer. Going forward, we may start to see more activity to attract attention of third party developers onto particular RIC environments.

New frontiers of complexity management are surfacing. Before the RIC Forum, ITS asked the community to submit Energy Saving and Traffic Steering applications. We did not fully appreciate that these were in fact quite coupled! Several demos demonstrated energy saving with traffic steering as the mechanism. In the future, we can expect to see more work on managing disparate Apps that interact and potentially conflict with one another.

Event Summary

Day one began with a keynote speech from Dr. Thomas Rondeau, Principal Director for FutureG, U.S. Department of Defense, asking questions regarding current and future RIC capabilities to level set the day and forum. Then, the program segued to live xApp and rApp demonstrations from the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), Mavenir, Capgemini, Microsoft, and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). The second part of day one continued with a panel discussion chaired by Dan Massey, Director for Advanced Component Development & Prototypes for FutureG, U.S. Department of Defense, on wireless military use cases and requirements and how 5G/Open RAN/RIC may realize those requirements. Day one finished with four lightning talks on xApps and rApps developed by Cohere Technologies, Northeastern University in partnership with George Mason University, Novowi, and the University of California San Diego in partnership with Texas A&M University.

Day two started with a keynote from Martin Weiss, Director for FutureG Applied Research, U.S. Department of Defense, who defined and give a history on the dual use of telecommunications equipment for industry and military use cases. The morning session continued with five more live xApp and rApp demonstrations from Northeastern University, AT&T, Juniper, Radisys, and Accelleran. Day two’s afternoon started with a panel discussion moderated by Idaho National Laboratory's Carl Kutsche on the subject of Open RAN 5G security issues and how the RIC could assist in closing these for specific use cases (such as military). Day two concluded with lightning talks on xApps and rApps developed by Compal and National Yan Ming Chiao Tung University, Rimedo Labs, the Open Networking Foundation, and Rakuten Symphony.

Our final (third) day started with a keynote from Ted Woodward, Technical Director for FutureG, U.S. Department of Defense, reflecting on the many impressive RIC App demos from days one and two. Next, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson (via video) provided some opening remarks and then Tim Krause (Deloitte) discussed the business case for the RIC and Open RAN with the group. The morning finished with a panel discussion chaired by Richard MacKenzie (British Telecom) on current and future RIC use cases. Day three’s afternoon consisted of a keynote on next-generation cloud xApps, panel discussions on Open RAN market deployment and use cases, international cooperation and vendors’ vision, a talk from DISH on Open RAN deployment, and an enterprise 5G deployment case study. Dr. Thomas Rondeau wrapped up with a talk on Open RAN deployment vision, and Charles Cooper (ITS/NTIA) finished the day with some closing remarks.