Blockchain-enabled network sharing for O-RAN in 5G and beyond

Published in Published in IEEE Network Magazine, 2022

Recommended citation: Giupponi, L., & Wilhelmi, F. (2022). Blockchain-enabled network sharing for O-RAN in 5G and beyond. IEEE Network, 36(4), 218-225.

Abstract: The innovation provided by network virtualization in 5G, together with standardization and openness boosted by the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) Alliance, has paved the way to a collaborative future in cellular systems, driven by flexible network sharing. Such advents are expected to attract new players like content providers and verticals, increasing competitiveness in the telecom market. However, scalability and trust issues are expected to arise, given the criticality of ownership traceability and resource exchanging in a sharing ecosystem. To address that, we propose integrating blockchain technology for enabling mobile operators and other players to exchange radio access network (RAN) resources (e.g., infrastructure) in the form of virtual network functions autonomously and dynamically. Blockchain will provide automation, robustness, trustworthiness, and reliability to mobile networks, thus bringing confidence to open RAN environments. In particular, we define a novel O-RAN-based blockchain-enabled architecture that allows automating RAN sharing procedures through either auction or marketplace-based mechanisms. The potential advantages of the proposed solution are demonstrated through simulation results. The used simulation platform is openly released.

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