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Project Name:

  • Proposed name for the project: C-RAN
  • Proposed name for the repository: c-ran

Project description:

The C-RAN project is mobile communication network integration and testing project based on NFV architecture. Establish an NFV cloud platform that supports mobile network VNFs. C-RAN means Cloud Radio Access Network or Centralized Radio Access Network. The basic concept is to consolidate compute resources to run some radio access functions  in a datacenter, rather than in a base station. Some of the functions which can be centralized may include centralized eNodeB processing (virtual baseband unit (vBBU) or Radio Cloud Center (RCC)), virtualized Mobility Management Entity (vMME), and virtualized Signalling/Processing Gateway (virtual S/GW or P/GW). Several of these virtual functions impose strict timing or performance requirements for signal processing to be compliant with RAN standards. The goal of this project is to document the requirements of these virtual functions, and propose a reference architecture for a complete C-RAN implementation which can be deployed on OPNFV infrastructure.  

C-RAN will also analyze and research demand for  hardware acceleration for the mobile network, for features like encryption and compression in protocols including PDCP (Packet Data Convergence Protocol) and RLC (Radio Link Control). The project will also improve the data processing ability of the NFVI for mobile, and enable the utilization of hardware acceleration in OpenStack.

Finally, C-RAN will also consider the design and architecture of a shared platform for MEC and C-RAN use-cases, including network orchestration of the mobile and virtual network..


The C-RAN project has the goal of providing a complete high level use-case definition for mobile radio access networks, including 5G, and to provide an environment for the deployment and testing of open source network functions for this use case. It will also define test cases and platform interfaces for the use-case, and optimize the performance of the both the platform and the virtual network functions.

To characterize performance, C-RAN will define the relevant measures for the performance of the NFVI platform. This includes defining the tools used to measure performance, and providing guidance for expected values to meet performance requirements for application components. For example, mobile network demands impose minimum requirements for the transmission network, including response latency, jitter, and bandwidth. C-RAN will characterize and present additional constraints on workload scheduling and orchestration which may be required.

Three sub-projects are planned for the C-RAN project:

  1. Integration and testing of Radio Access Network VNFs (RAN-VNF) (high priority);
  2. Research on requirements and architecture design for hardware acceleration for RAN  (general priority);
  3. Analysis of requirements for a shared platform for MEC and RAN use-cases, including additional network orchestration requirements (priority to be decided);
  • Identify relevant interface/API specifications:
    • Recommend an architecture for a functional split of the eNodeB (CU, DU, Radio) and the interfaces between physical and virtual components;
    • Based on CU/DU architecture of the realization of interface extension between RAN-VNF and RAN-PNF; (DN: I believe this bullet is redundant with the previous bullet - can you confirm?)
    • Identify required interfaces for the management of hardware acceleration for the NFVI cloud platform based on CU/DU architecture;
  • Specify and perform testing and integration:
    • Define test cases for the RAN-VNF stack based on 4G LTE standard; (DN: Shouldn't we include 5G-NR test cases also?)
    • NFVI integration tests for mobile network elements;
    • Integration with the MANO platform, and testing of NFVI Enhanced Platform Awareness (EPA) extension features for mobile network elements;
  • Debugging and Tracing
  • Unit/Integration Test plans

Proposed milestones:

  • 2017 Q4 Complete the C-RAN project set up;
  • 2018 Q1 Complete the platform integration test based on NFVI optimization;
  • 2018 Q1 Start research on requirements for hardware acceleration;
  • 2018 Q1 Define requirements for VCO v2.0 demo based on C-RAN use-case
  • 2018 Q2 Complete and present VCO v2.0 demo (target event: Open Networking Summit, 26-29 March 2018)
  • 2018 Q2 Present the implementation of the 4G LTE RAN-VNF protocol stack, and complete functional test cases;
  • 2018 Q3 Start the architecture and interface definition of the accelerator adaptation layer;
  • 2018 Q4 Complete the integration test based on optimized NFVI and RAN-VNF (finish the UE/RAN-VNF/Core-VNF link test)
    • Develop client tools for status shows etc.
    • Identify a list of features and functionality to be developed.

Proposed work items:

  • Development of a functional test case for RAN-VNF initially based on 4G LTE, with 5G gNB to be addressed later;
  • Creation of a platform tuning reference specification for the integrated NFVI platform integrated for a mobile communication network (including hardware requirements and software configuration);
  • Define and realize the interface split between CU/DU/Radio, and between the RAN-VNF and RAN-PNF;
  • Define architecture and identify platform requirements for the management and use of hardware acceleration
    • Limit the scope to hardware acceleration and scheduling for the NFVI.
  • Note: The implementation of the DU (RAN-PNF), compliant with 5G standards, is NOT in the realm of R&D of this project.
    • This project will use existing open source implementations of the VNF where possible
  • The C-RAN project will be developed and integrated using best principles from DevOps: Continuous integration and testing of small changes, clear segregation of function and definition of interfaces across different modules.


  • Specify testing and integration like interoperability, scalability, high availability
  • What QA and test resources will be available?

The C-RAN project will provide a set of NFVI integrated tuning reference specifications to provide platform support for project participants;

The C-RAN project will provide test case debugging manuals and debug scripts;


  • API Docs

The project will submit an interface specification between CU and DU (RAN-VNF/RAN-PNF);

The interface extension definitions between RAN-VNF and MANO will be presented;

The project will submit the definition of the accelerator adapter layer interface;

  • Functional block description

The project will submit an interface definition description for CU (RAN-VNF), interface call instructions, test flow instructions, and test results;

The project will submit the tuning reference specification for all functional modules of the NFVI platform;


  • Identify similar projects is underway or being proposed in OPNFV or upstream project
    • VCO v2.0
    • MEC
    • ONAP - vRAN use-case


  • Identify any open source upstream projects and release timeline.

The open source community outside OPNFV has OAI, M-CORD, X-RAN and TIP projects related to mobile network VNFs.

  • Identify any specific development be staged with respect to the upstream project and releases.
  • Are there any external fora or standard development organization dependencies. If possible, list and informative and normative reference specifications

The C-RAN project will integrate the work of several OPNFV community projects, including kvm4nfv, ovs_nfv, Cyborg, yardstick, and other projects, and the external open source projects DPDK, Linux, OAI, ONAP, and other projects.

  • If project is an integration and test, identify hardware dependency.

The C-RAN project needs to configure 82599 network Card during integration (SmartNic and FPGA needs to be integrated).

Committers and Contributors:

  • Names and affiliations of the committers

  • Names and affiliations of any other contributors

Planned deliverables:

  • Described the project release package as OPNFV or open source upstream projects.

The C-RAN project will release in the form of OPNFV Package.

  • If project deliverables have multiple dependencies across other project categories, described linkage of the deliverables.

When the C-RAN project is released, it will be defined by specific versions of the external open source community and submit documents and instructions related to community dependencies.

Proposed Release Schedule:

  • When is the first release planned?
  • Will this align with the current release cadence

Use the above information to create a key project facts section on your project page


  • CU: Centralized Unit - centralized components of RAN shared by multiple antennae
  • DU: Distributed Unit - components of RAN which can be deployed at the mobile antenna
  • C-RAN: Cloud/Centralized Radio Access Network
  • RAN-NFVI: Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure configured and deployed to run C-RAN
  • RAN-VNF: The software components of the C-RAN Virtual Network Function
  • RAN-PNF: Physical Network Function components required to run the C-RAN Virtual Network Function
  • MEC: Mobile Edge Computing
  • PDCP: Packet Data Convergence Protocol
  • RLC: Radio Link Control
  • eNodeB: Enhanced NodeB -  mobile base station
  • vBBU: Virtual Base Band Unit
  • LTE: Long Term Evolution - 4G network architecture for improved mobile networking

Key Project Facts

Project Name: C-RAN
Repo name: c-ran
Lifecycle State: Proposal
Primary Contact: Bai Changming <>
Project Lead: Bai Changming <>
Jira Project Name: Same as Project name 
Jira Project Prefix: CRAN
mailing list tag [CRAN] 

*Link to TSC approval: Example* 
Link to approval of additional submitters: Example


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