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Nokia, Samsung in Open Base Station Push

Big name mobile phone operators Nokia and Samsung are among a group pushing for open standards for base station internal architecture, a move aimed at driving down costs in one of the toughest climates for telecommunications companies.

The Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (a href=http://www.obsai.org>OSBAI), which is jointly-funded by Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics and supported by NEC Networks, was created to focus on R&D efforts on opening up the internal modular structure of the base stations used for wireless transmission.

The plan is to set open digital interfaces between the transmission part, the base-band part and the linear transceiver to allow base station vendors to buy and sell functional base stations modules from each other in an OEM fashion.

Nokia, which first mooted the project back in February, believes the success of the OSBAI would lead to competition the module level and open the doors for vendors in the module sales business to produce larger volumes of such modules.

More importantly, a Nokia spokesman said an open architecture would lead to lower production costs to base station operators who are building data-driven mobile networks to meet the increasing demand for new mobile Internet services.

"These new data-intensive services will mean the amount of data traffic in mobile networks will grow dramatically. That's why the OBSAI is such an important initiative," the spokesman said.

Nokia, which is working to set up a Special Interest Group to define the architecture, said open interfaces at every level of the network would open up the module market.

Jukka Klemettila, who is chairing the OSBAI, said the program would revolutionize radio base station development. "It will allow radio base stations to be built using shared platforms and modules available on an open market," Klemettila said.

Already, Klemettila said the OSBAI has reached agreement on the high level, logical architecture required for standardization. "We expect detailed specifications to be available by the end of this year," he said, noting that the OSBAI is by no means a "closed shop" initiative.

He said the OSBAI would complement current activities in existing standardization organizations. Radio base stations developed using Open Base Station Architecture will be compatible with standard radio interfaces, such as WCDMA, GSM/EDGE and CDMA.