OAI integrates O-RAN RIC with its 5G Stack and showcases Monitoring & Control xApps

The MOSAIC5G Project Group recently launched at the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance (OSA) is proudly sharing its first set of achievements in this demo that was also presented at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Americas 2021 in Los Angeles. The demo showcases FlexRIC, a flexible O-RAN compliant RIC and a RAN agent running on top of the OpenAirInterface (OAI) radio software stack.

What is FlexRIC?

FlexRIC is a software suite that contains two components:

  1. a RAN agent that allows for interfacing with the radio stack, and
  2. a real-time (RT) controller

FlexRIC is short for “Flexible RAN Intelligent Controller”. It interfaces with the OAI radio stack over the O-RAN-defined E2-interface to monitor and control the RAN in real-time.

Why FlexRIC? :

FlexRIC has a built-in Service Model (SM) for monitoring and slicing, that can be easily customized and extended to fulfill the diverse 5G use cases. FlexRIC’s Application Protocol (AP) and SM are encoding and decoding agnostic. It also supports the creation of new SMs “à la carte” to satisfy specific, yet not standardized, use cases. Lastly, FlexRIC is expected to act as a booster for the type and quality of Machine Learning algorithms deployed in 5G as it easily enables their validation in real 5G deployments as shown here with the  OpenAirInterface 5G stack.

As a part of this demo, we showcase the following FlexRIC capabilities:

  • Integration with OAI’s 5G cellular radio stack
  • FlexRIC E2-agent compatibility with the O-RAN RIC
  • Monitoring capabilities through “à la carte” designed SMs 
  • Control capabilities through xApps that perform slicing control at a NSA 5G network

How does FlexRIC compare with the O-RAN Alliance’s near-RT RIC?

The RT controller component of the FlexRIC software suite contains similar functionality with similar overall aims as the O-RAN Alliance’s near-RT RIC. However, it is smaller, compact, handy, easy to deploy, and well-suited to experimentation. We emphasize, as we show in the demo for the O-RAN near-RT RIC, that any RIC can easily replace the FlexRIC RT controller.