SUTD to Launch South-East Asia’s First O-RAN Open Testing and Integration Centre (OTIC)

28 Feb 2023 Information Systems Technology and Design 5G/6G/Network Communications

Mr Koo Eng Wei (Head of Standard and Solution Technology, Keysight Technologies) and Professor Tony Quek (Director of Future Communications R&D Programme, and Head of Pillar for Information Systems Technology and Design, SUTD) at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC) 2023.

Announced at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC) 2023, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) will launch a new O-RAN1 Asia & Pacific Open Testing and Integration Centre (OTIC) in Singapore. As part of Singapore’s S$70 million Future Communications R&D Programme (FCP) supported by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), the Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will be co-located within SUTD’s Future Communications Connectivity (FCC) lab.

The new Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will look to advance Singapore’s digital infrastructure capabilities and enable the next level of innovation in future communications and capabilities. It will establish a centre of excellence on the security, sustainability and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) aspects of Open RAN. With the addition of OTIC at SUTD’s FCC lab, the first 6G R&D lab in Southeast Asia will expand existing infrastructure and support holistic testing and integration activities for mobile networks and applications with both indoors and outdoors test environments. The centre in Singapore will also serve as part of the global OTIC networks and establish itself as the South-east Asia hub and gateway to the global Open RAN ecosystem.

“We are excited to work with our partners to anchor the first 5G O-RAN centre in South-east Asia right here in Singapore. This centre will look to enable regional and global efforts to address security challenges for O-RAN technologies. 5G O-RAN will allow for the validation of open and interoperable networks and assurance testing will safeguard against new threats in a rapidly evolving digital landscape,” said Dr Ong Chen Hui, Assistant Chief Executive of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development (IMDA).

The Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore will provide rigorous cybrersecurity assurance for O-RAN solutions, critical to address new cybersecurity challenges that result from O-RAN’s open and multi-vendor nature. Towards this, SUTD has been collaborating with Keysight Technologies and Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) to develop a holistic framework that can systematically assess the security and resilience of O-RAN systems and components. The framework will facilitate security assessments modelled on diverse threats originated from multiple attack vectors, including compromised O-RAN radio units (O-RUs) and compromised network elements in fronthaul interfaces.

In addition, the framework collects detailed network trace and logs supporting in-depth root cause analysis and provides mitigation recommendations based on testing outcomes. During the validation of QCT’s OmniRAN solution, the framework evaluated the control, user and synchronisation plane implementations of its O-RU, fronthaul gateway (FHGW) and baseband units (BU). A joint cyber-assessment demonstration is presented during MWC at both the Keysight and QCT booth. It is also featured in the O-RAN ALLIANCE’s virtual exhibition during MWC 2023.

“QCT, as one of the leading enablers for O-RAN solution, is privileged to work with SUTD and Keysight’s team in developing a cyber assessment framework that validates our OmniRAN solution and addresses new emerging attack vectors,” said Mr Mike Yang, President of QCT.

Mr Peng Cao, Vice President and General Manager for Keysight's Wireless Test Group, said, "The launch of SUTD’s OTIC is an important step forward in the adoption of secure, open and interoperable O-RAN architectures. By working closely with SUTD and QCT, Keysight is excited to be providing the industry with an integrated framework to assess the security and resiliency of ORAN systems and components.”

Besides cybersecurity, the new Asia & Pacific OTIC in Singapore also plans to develop capability on testing and optimisation of energy savings techniques for communications networks, as well as capability to test open RAN solutions designed for strategic application verticals that are critical for Singapore and the region, including the maritime vertical.

“SUTD is the host institution for Singapore's Future Communications R&D Programme. By launching this new OTIC, we will continue to champion Singapore's efforts to become a global research and innovation hub for communication and connectivity technologies,” said Prof Tony Quek, Director of Singapore's Future Communications R&D Programme and a Professor at SUTD.

SUTD is an academic member of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, which is a world-wide community of mobile operators, vendors and research & academic institutions. O-RAN ALLIANCE aims to re-shape Radio Access Networks to be more intelligent, open, virtualised and fully interoperable. OTIC plays a key role in O-RAN ecosystem, by providing an open, collaborative and vendor-independent environment to test and verify the conformity, interoperability, function and performance of RAN equipment based on O-RAN test specifications.

1 O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) is a 5G architecture aimed at making the wireless network more open, flexible and scalable by breaking down the traditional, closed systems into smaller, more interoperable components