The Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things (WIoT) at Northeastern University announces the establishment of an Open Testing and Integration Center (OTIC) in Burlington, MA, to promote research, development, and testing of next-generation Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN). The new OTIC within the Open6G hub will be a resource for industry, academia, and the federal government to provide testing, certification, and badging capabilities to guarantee multi-vendor interoperability, perform compliance and performance testing, and validate end-to-end control logic; as well as test artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to control open and programmable cellular networks.
The new Northeastern OTIC builds on facilities and capabilities available in the Open6G center, which will be expanded with dedicated testing equipment. Key capabilities include:
- Large-scale Experimental Wireless Testbeds – Colosseum, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the world’s largest wireless network emulator, with 256 software-defined radios and 25 server racks equipped with programmable GPUs, FPGAs, and orchestration tools. Colosseum has hosted demonstrations of closed-loop control with xApps in O-RAN using the OpenRAN Gym framework, large-scale data collection for AI/ML training, and extensive testing of commercial radios and emulated devices. Arena is the over-the-air complement to Colosseum, which hosts a first-of-its-kind fully automated private 5G network.
- FCC Innovation Zone – The OTIC is part of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Innovation Zone, which covers multiple 5G bands in the Northeastern University campuses in Boston and Burlington, MA. This allows over-the-air testing of O-RAN systems in a variety of different environments.
- Diverse 5G RAN Deployments: The OTIC encompasses multiple 5G RAN deployments, including commercial/proprietary as well as Open RAN products such as 5G User Equipment (UE), core networks, and a programmable 5G O-RAN testbed with over 10 base stations in the indoor Arena testbed. This extensive infrastructure facilitates testing and integration of xApps and rApps against various RAN implementations in emulated and over-the-air environments.
- Specialized Testing Facilities: The OTIC is co-located with a large outdoor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) testing facility to explore use cases related to drone mobility and with an anechoic chamber designed to conduct interference-free radio device testing.
The Northeastern OTIC has been launched in partnership with AT&T, Verizon, and DISH. The WIoT industry consortium, which has been supporting this effort, counts about 20 vendors, operators, over-the-top system integrators, and small businesses in the telecom space. …Read More