NSF Announces Launch of OpenAirX-Labs (OAX) to Accelerate Development and Testing of Open Source 5G

The Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) Project Office, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a consortium of 35 leading wireless companies and associations, announced the launch of OpenAirX-Labs (OAX) as part of the PAWR program. OAX is the North American home for development, testing, and integration of the OpenAirInterface (OAI) Software Alliance’s open-source 5G standalone software stack. It is the newest resource in the PAWR program, a public-private partnership promoting wireless research through the development of multiple outdoor, large-scale wireless testbeds across the U.S.

“OAX will expand accessibility of 5G and beyond to an entire ecosystem of innovators,

Charles Schroeder, NI Fellow.

Founding industry partners for OAX include Facebook, Interdigital, N.I., Qualcomm, Radisys, and Xilinx – all part of the larger PAWR Industry Consortium. Federal funding for OAX activities is provided by NSF and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering [DOD OUSD (R&E)] through awards under the PAWR program. OAX is located at the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things at Northeastern University in Boston.

” OAX also promises to provide a vital resource for development work and interoperability testing specific to Open RAN”

The need for open source 5G software is increasingly apparent as researchers seek to advance development in the 5G mobile core, radio access network (RAN), and service management and orchestration systems. As networks evolve toward more disaggregated and virtualized environments, there are significant opportunities to optimize and innovate network operations. However, those opportunities have been mainly limited to organizations with access to commercial software, making it difficult to broaden the 5G innovation ecosystem.

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OAX aims to address this market challenge by introducing a benchmark, end-to-end 5G implementation, and by providing development and test status across multiple identified metrics. In addition, OAX will maintain a crowd-sourced inventory of different ecosystem solutions to encourage increased collaboration and critical interoperability testing.

“The launch of OAX puts muscle not only behind U.S. efforts to expand the capabilities and performance of 5G networks, but also behind the technologies that will move the wireless industry beyond 5G. By hosting OAX as part of the PAWR program, we are also ensuring there is a clear path from software development through to testing and prototyping of new software, hardware, and wireless applications.”

Abhimanyu (Manu) Gosain., PAWR Technical Program Director

AXO provides a neutral, remotely accessible lab environment in North America designed to accelerate the development of a stable, compliant, and performant software stack. Once initial development and testing are complete, the open-source 5G software will be instantiated as a new software profile on the PAWR wireless testbeds. It will be made available to researchers for the ongoing exploration of 5G spectrum sharing, network automation, and other advanced wireless technologies.

“A lot of thinking and hard work from the board, engineering teams of EURECOM and the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance (OSA) has gone into laying the ground work for the launch of the OpenAirX-Labs, The Alliance is from the start fully committed to creating the conditions for openness and therefore to the global adoption of OAI.”

Raymond Knopp, President of the OpenAirInterface Software Alliance and Professor at EURECOM


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Developers from EURECOM, OSA, and the key partners in the community deliver end-to-end 5G core and RAN stacks that are stable, easy to deploy, and interesting for the use cases of the contributors and users. There are great opportunities ahead as OAI now expands through the OAX labs in North America.

With the industry push toward Open RAN interfaces, OAX also ensures a vital resource for development work and interoperability testing specific to Open RAN deployment efforts. The PAWR program is already closely partnered with the Open RAN community, POWDER, and COSMOS – the PAWR testbeds are located in Salt Lake City and New York City, respectively, served as hosts for North American Open RAN plugfest events in 2020.

In addition to OAX, PAWR Facilities and Resources include Colosseum, the world’s most prominent radiofrequency emulator. PAWR wireless testbeds include: POWDER in Salt Lake City, which is focused on software-defined networking and massive MIMO research; COSMOS in the West Harlem neighborhood of New York City, targeting programmable networks and innovation in optical backhaul; and AERPAW in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, focused on wireless communications for unmanned aerial systems (UAS). 

“As a strong advocate for establishing a high quality reference architecture for the 3GPP 5G RAN and Core Network protocols, interfaces, and APIs, Qualcomm is excited to support the formation of OpenAirX-Labs/ The mission of extending the Open Air Interface 5G stack implementation with additional features and O&M capabilities that are essential for US government 5G-related R&D projects is vital for maintaining and growing US government and academic research leadership in 5G (and beyond) technologies,”

Ed Tiedemann, SVP, Engineering at Qualcomm

 More information on OAX is available on the OAX website, and the PAWR program website.

SOURCE Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR)

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