This week VMware and Cohere Technologies announced our continuing partnership to develop an O-RAN solution which will allow mobile network operators to improve network and spectral efficiencies and to deliver new and differentiated services and experiences for their customers. VMware and Cohere first showed a 4G Proof-of-Concept (POC) demonstration for Deutsche Telekom in February 2020 along with Intel FlexRAN to generate a 2X Spectrum Multiplier effect on a 4G FDD commercial network. Subsequent to that demonstration, Cohere won GSMA’s esteemed award for “Best Network Software Breakthrough”.
As our partnership enters the second year, VMware and Cohere are now demonstrating how a powerful platform built on O-RAN principles can further boost the capacity by enabling Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) for 5G mobile networks in a trial with Vodafone. To make this happen, Cohere first evolved its solution from 4G to 5G and from FDD to TDD, in partnership with Intel and Capgemini. Cohere also evolved the channel estimation to include channel prediction, and developed a scheduler that is capable of running either locally or in the cloud as an xApp on the VMware RIC. As recently announced by Vodafone, the performance was confirmed to dramatically increase total spectral efficiency.
Cohere’s Spectrum Multiplier xApp improves spectrum by up to 2X for 4G or 5G, and VMware’s Radio Access Network Intelligent Controller (RIC) in the Telco Cloud reduces the need for expensive and energy-consuming hardware within a mobile base station by up to a third. Together, Cohere and VMware help make mobile network operators better equipped to make full use of all spectrum assets to deliver bandwidth-sensitive services like AR/VR streaming, 360/4K videos, and immersive gaming, among others.
So how is this possible?
Cohere is the first to overcome the complexity of accurate channel estimation and prediction, and the result is a software solution that overcomes the roundtrip latency challenges of moving critical intelligence from the RAN to cloud. Cohere’s pioneering work in the Delay Doppler domain reduces computation complexity through concise channel representation. Since Cohere’s software takes advantage of existing UE feedback for channel measurement, no changes are needed to the 4G or 5G standards or existing handsets. The longer “coherence time” enables Cohere’s intelligent cloud Scheduler to be deployed in the Edge Data Center, and this option forms the foundation for further improving cell edge performance via intercell coordination (CoMP).
The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) is a new platform introduced by the O-RAN Alliance that enables CSPs to deploy cloud-native control and management apps in the RAN. Essentially, it leverages the prior virtualization of the RAN Centralized Units (CUs) and Distributed Units (DUs), and exposes complex RAN intelligence that was previously embedded in closed base stations. The VMware RIC is an open platform that has been designed to keep the developer experience at the center, and it provides an easy-to-use Software Developer Kit (SDK) for any third-party developer to build an app that can be deployed in the RAN. Today most of these apps are geared toward making the network faster, including Cohere’s Spectrum Multiplier xApp.
Cohere is currently engaged in POCs with mobile operators and technology partners around the world. Together with VMware, we’re forecasting general availability by the end of 2021. This is an exciting time in wireless. Innovation is accelerating with new entrants. Operators are committed to opening their networks. Performance is improving, and soon we will demonstrate network slicing into enterprises and other cloud benefits that have alluded operators to date. As network costs come down and new monetization strategies emerge, increased operator profitability will drive another leg of growth. Consumers and enterprises will both see significant benefits.
Stay tuned for more news later this year.
Ray Dolan, Chairman and CEO