November 10, 2016 —
Those of you who read what I write from time to time know that I like to call the IoT the IoX – for the internet of anything/everything. I like that acronym for a couple of reasons. One because it encompasses the many different renditions of this new ecosystem; internet of many things, industrial internet of things, internet of your things, internet of medical things, and so on. Most of these are just the brain children of the “internet of marketers” trying to carve out a niche that they can use to leverage their particular interest.
The other reason is that the letter “x” is kind of the de facto symbol for “anything.” So using the term the internet of anything/everything makes it much easier to talk about, well…anything and everything.
And sometimes others catch that too. For example, recently, Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and SK Telecom came together to present a different approach to promote radio access networks (RANs) that are software-based. This is a shift from today’s traditional highly proprietary RAN infrastructure. They call it xRAN – nice.
These players took advantage of the next-generation mobile network (NGMN) conference in Frankfurt to present this next-generation platform. It presents the potential to deploy network function virtualization and software defined networks versus the core network where most of the software deployment has been focused, to date.
The organization, called xRAN.org, is determined to implement open interfaces which can decouple the control plane and make use of the EnodeB base stations. This as an alternative to the existing closed, distributed control implementations on proprietary hardware. This new vector of extensible RANs will allow much better use of spectrum assets, as well as reduce opex and capex. And they can be implemented across many different networks.
xRAN looks like it will get legs. Intel, Texas Instruments, Aricent, Radisys all have shown support for it and several others are looking seriously at supporting it. If xRAN gets the traction, it has the potential to radically alter the mobile network landscape of how these networks are built and managed.