February 29, 2024

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Singapore: First O-RAN Open Testing and Integration Centre in South-East Asia

Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) will open a new O-RAN Asia & Pacific Open Testing and Integration Centre (OTIC) in Singapore, as announced at the recently held Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC) 2023.

The Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will be co-located within SUTD’s Future Communications Connectivity (FCC) lab as part of Singapore’s S$70 million Future Communications R&D Programme (FCP), which is supported by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF).

The new Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will aim to expand Singapore’s digital infrastructure capabilities while also enabling the next level of innovation in future communications and capacities. It will develop a centre of expertise for Open RAN security, sustainability, and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML).

The inclusion of OTIC at SUTD’s FCC lab will allow the first 6G R&D lab in Southeast Asia to enhance existing infrastructure and support comprehensive testing and integration activities for mobile networks and apps in both indoor and outdoor test settings. The Singapore centre will also be a part of the global OTIC networks, as well as the Southeast Asia hub and gateway to the global Open RAN ecosystem.

Dr Ong Chen Hui, Singapore’s IMDA’s Assistant Chief Executive, claimed that they are eager to collaborate with their partners to establish the first 5G O-RAN centre in Southeast Asia in Singapore. This centre will facilitate regional and international initiatives to solve the security problems posed by O-RAN technologies. 5G O-RAN will enable the validation of open and interoperable networks, and assurance testing will protect against new risks in a digital ecosystem that is continuously expanding.

The Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will provide rigorous cybersecurity assurance for O-RAN systems, which will be important in addressing emerging cybersecurity challenges caused by the open and multi-vendor nature of O-RAN.

SUTD has been working with a manufacturer of electronic test and measurement equipment and software to provide a holistic framework for assessing the security and resilience of O-RAN systems and components.

The framework will make it easier to conduct security assessments based on threats originating from a variety of attack routes, such as compromised O-RAN radio units (O-RUs) and compromised network elements in fronthaul interfaces.

Furthermore, the framework collects rich network trace and log data to facilitate in-depth root cause analysis and makes mitigation recommendations based on testing results. The framework examined the control, user, and synchronisation plane implementations of its O-RU, fronthaul gateway (FHGW), and baseband components during the validation of the OmniRAN solution.

During MWC 2023, a cyber-assessment demonstration was given and was featured in the O-RAN ALLIANCE’s virtual display. In addition to cybersecurity, the new Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore plans to develop testing and optimisation of energy savings techniques for communications networks, as well as testing open RAN solutions designed for Singapore- and region-critical strategic application verticals, such as the maritime vertical.

SUTD is a member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, a global community of mobile operators, vendors, and research and academic organisations. O-RAN ALLIANCE seeks to redesign Radio Access Networks such that they are more intelligent, open, virtualised, and fully interoperable.

By offering an open, collaborative, and vendor-independent environment for testing and verifying the compliance, interoperability, function, and performance of RAN equipment based on O-RAN test requirements, OTIC plays a crucial role in the O-RAN ecosystem.


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