Small Cell Forum (SCF) has published the PHY API for 5G to stimulate a competitive ecosystem for vendors of 5G small cell hardware, software and equipment to drive 5G Open RAN.
The PHY API provides an open and interoperable interface between the physical layer and the MAC layer. 3G and LTE versions are already used in most small cells today.
The specification has been developed through a successful collaboration of companies from across the small cell eco-system including Intel, Qualcomm Technologies, Airspan Networks and Picocom Technology.
By doing this, SCF provides an interchangeability of parts ensuring that the system vendors can take advantage of the latest innovations in silicon and software with minimum barriers to entry, and the least amount of custom re-engineering.
Operators are looking for a radically different cost model for 5G networks, one that relies on interoperability and an open, competitive ecosystem. As networks are disaggregated, a critical interface is the fronthaul between a distributed unit (DU) for radio functions and a centralised unit (CU) for protocol stacks and baseband functions.
Open specifications such as SCF’s FAPI will enable operators to mix and match protocol stacks, basebands and radios from different vendors, and realize the benefits of deploying disaggregated, virtualized RAN (vRAN) networks.
“The economic success of 5G is reliant on interoperable multivendor networks, which require open interfaces at both silicon and network level,” said David Orloff, Chair, Small Cell Forum.
“These uniform specifications for equipment and interfaces will enable limitless flexibility in how cells are deployed and which form factors and suppliers are included. Specifications such as 5G FAPI are key to accelerating the progress towards fully deployable, commercially viable dense 5G networks,” added Orloff.