Towards Enabling RAN as a Service - The Extensible Virtualisation Layer
Network slicing is one of the key enabling techniques for 5G, allowing Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to support services with diverging requirements on top of their infrastructure. The MNOs should be able to offer network slices as a service and provide customisable and independent virtual networks to verticals. The slicing of an end-to-end (E2E) mobile network is divided into Core Network (CN) slicing, and Radio Access Network (RAN) slicing. In this paper, we assess the requirements for using radio hypervisors to enable RAN as a Service (RANaaS). We evaluate the current state-of-the-art on radio virtualisation with respect to these requirements and identify the missing features. Then, we present the eXtensible Virtualisation Layer (XVL), a software layer that provides the missing functionality for enabling RANaaS and can be added on top of existing radio hypervisors. We outline XVL’s architecture and design choices, as well as evaluate its performance in terms of the delay to provision virtual radios, the delay introduced to forward IQ samples, and the computational overhead. Our results show that XVL enables leveraging existing radio hypervisors to support RANaaS.