RAN Open Ecosystem

Network Scorecard rApp from VMware Wins FutureNet World 2023 Award for Most Innovative App of AI and Automation

You’ve probably heard about one of the key benefits of the O-RAN Alliance’s architecture for open RAN by now: Standardized interfaces between the elements in a radio access network let you mix and match solutions from different vendors to best meet your objectives and to vary those solutions by the markets you serve in a cost-effective, sustainable way. In doing so, though, you’re likely to discover that such an approach begs a question: How can you assess the quality of the service for subscribers across heterogeneous markets or sectors? 

The problem, of course, is a complex one: A litany of variables and factors influence coverage and network quality. Sectors with diverse sets of network topologies, user-traffic patterns, and vendor equipment call for continuous monitoring to detect performance issues before they affect subscriber experiences – and that means data. Legacy OSS products and manual processes are no match for the task of contextualizing the vast amount of data generated by modern mobile networks and translating those streams into actionable insights by human operators in near-real time.  

The network scorecard rApp from VMware solves these problems with a fully automated AI-powered process — a solution honored at FutureNet World 2023 in London on May 3 as the winner of the most innovative application of AI and Automation.  

Recognition As Validation 

Yes, the award matters to us — it’s always important to receive external recognition of our innovations, especially when they illustrate our use of artificial intelligence.   

But what matters more is that it demonstrates — and validates — VMware’s modern approach to helping telcos derive tangible benefits from innovative open RAN solutions to age-old telecommunications problems. The network scorecard rApp from VMware is powered by our non-real-time RAN intelligent controller, called VMware Centralized RIC, which is part of an open, multi-vendor architecture that disaggregates a traditional radio access network and paves the way to use modern techniques like AI/ML for automation, assurance, and optimization.  

By using an AI-based analytical framework and a contextualized performance model, the network scorecard rApp from VMware takes a continuous feed of data from the VMware Centralized RIC and uses it to deliver a fully automated solution for assessing network quality across markets. 

A Simple Yet Effective Approach 

Here’s how the app works: It ingests data from all sectors in all markets under its control; adds context to the values it measures, such as SINR (Signal to Interference & Noise Ratio) and CQI (Channel Quality Indicator); and assigns a score to each market based on how its performance compares to an AI-derived benchmark expectation. You can then use the comparison to make changes in the network that restore performance to expected levels. 

This automated process is simple yet effective: The network scorecard rApp from VMware first trains its contextual performance model using historical sector-level performance data gathered for several days and computes predictive benchmarks based on different context scenarios. Then, as the rApp starts ingesting current performance data like throughput and pairs it with information on current contextual factors, the app compares the achieved performance with the expected benchmark produced by the AI-predictive model.  

The result of this AI-assisted comparison is a score for the market. If, for example, the current performance measures lower than the AI-derived expectation, the market is scored low. This approach produces a fair comparison of the network quality between different markets with diverse underlying network conditions.  

But more importantly, it reveals the main factors that contributed to the score so you can quickly take action to remediate the situation. 

Demonstrating the Tangible Benefits of VMware RIC 

The benefits are clear: By onboarding the network scorecard rApp from VMware, you can tap assurance and automation to rapidly detect performance degradation by market, gather contextualized information on the causes, and update your RAN configurations where network quality is falling short of expectations.  

The benefits of using the network scorecard rApp from VMware demonstrates how VMware RIC can bring value to telcos. In the multi-vendor networks envisioned by the O-RAN Alliance, the network scorecard rApp from VMware ultimately becomes just one of many such applications. VMware Centralized RIC can run rApps from various vendors, and our near-real-time RIC, called VMware Distributed RIC, can run xApps from various vendors. Both include a software development kit to empower you to develop and deploy applications quickly and easily.  

A variety of applications have been developed to run on our VMware RIC by our partners — many of which were recently demonstrated during the rAppathon hosted by VMware and Intel at MWC Barcelona 2023. See the blog post on RAN Innovation in Action at https://blogs.vmware.com/telco/rapppathon/.  

VMware RIC opens the door to such benefits as the following:  

  • Multi-vendor interoperability and a vibrant partner ecosystem – use a vendor- and technology-agnostic platform and tap pioneering solutions.  
  • Efficiency – reduce energy consumption and improve spectrum utilization by using applications from various partners. 
  • Network optimization – gain network-wide observability and automate optimization with AI/ML, as demonstrated by the network scorecard rApp from VMware. 

Solutions from various partners illustrate how you can use VMware RIC to, among other things, optimize coverage in the RAN, reduce energy usage, and create new monetization opportunities.  

So, how can VMware help you automate and optimize your telecommunications networks? 

Check out the VMware RIC SDK Partner Program 

The VMware RIC SDK Partner Program expands access to and simplifies the development of RIC applications. The program gives partners access to RIC SDKs as well as training videos and application developer support to kick-start your application development work.  

The program has propelled a range of innovative companies to bring their applications to market, fast-tracking the latest research from universities and other bodies into commercial-ready solutions. 

To find out more, check out the following: 


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