Project overview

The MARSAL addresses the need of network densification in the complex and dynamic network ecosystem of the future. Key paradigm of the beyond-5G network is the cell-free design, where “cellular” network is obsoleted with new distributed design of coordinated distributed units (DU) and Radio units (RU). In this complex and dynamic network ecosystem, an end-to-end performance analysis and optimization will be key features, to effectively manage the diverse requirements imposed by multiple vertical industries over the same shared infrastructure.  To enable such a vision, the MARSAL targets the development and evaluation of a complete framework for the management and orchestration of network resources in 5G and beyond, by utilizing a converged optical-wireless network infrastructure in the access and fronthaul/midhaul segments. In MARSAL project, three design pillars are proposed to enable novel cell-free concept for beyond 5G networks:

  • At the network design pillar, MARSAL aims to develop a novel cell-free based solution that allows the significant scaling up of the wireless access points (APs) in a cost-effective manner by exploiting the application of the distributed cell-free concept and of the serial fronthaul approach, while contributing innovative functionalities to the O-RAN project. In parallel, in the fronthaul/midhaul segments MARSAL aims to radically increase the flexibility of optical access architectures for Beyond-5G Cell Site connectivity via different levels of fixed-mobile convergence.
  • At the virtual elastic infrastructure pillar, the design philosophy of MARSAL is to provide a comprehensive framework for the management of the entire set of communication and computational network resources by exploiting novel ML-based algorithms of both edge and midhaul DCs, by incorporating the Virtual Elastic Data Centers/Infrastructures paradigm.
  • At the network security pillar, MARSAL aims to introduce mechanisms that provide privacy and security to application workload and data, targeting to allow applications and users to maintain control over their data when relying on the deployed shared infrastructures, while AI and Blockchain technologies will be developed to guarantee a secured multi-tenant slicing environment.

Role of IS-Wireless

The role of IS-Wireless in MARSAL is to deliver vO_CU-UP and vO-DU for a cell-free vRAN architecture and integrate it with O-RAN compliant control plane (vO_CU-CP) from a consortium partner (Acceleran). From the other hand, IS-Wireless will also develop a prototype of cell-free vO-DU and integrate it with cell-free high-PHY from another consortium partner (KU-Leuven).

IS-Wireless will also deliver a MAC layer intelligent scheduler for cell-free operation. The vO-DU from IS-Wireless will utilize the FAPI-like device driver from KUL (lightweight version) and on the side of NearRT-RIC from Acceleran will receive E2 compliant interface. IS-Wireless will be providing the user plane and control plane integration points for the NearRT-RIC. In MARSAL, ISW will lead the WP6 (Integration, Experimentation and Proof-of-Concept), the T3.4 (integration and testing of MARSAL’s cell-free B5G network. Moreover, IS-Wireless also participating in WP2 (overall architecture, system requirements, and interfaces) and WP3 (cell-free access for 5G and beyond), respectively.