OAIBOX 5G Lab Manual

The OAIBOX 5G Lab Manual is the OAIBOX companion document that provides step-by-step 5G Lab exercises to be replicated by students.

      Learning goals:  
  • Understand how different 5G NR Air Interface configurations affect end-to-end connectivity.
  • Understand the 5G protocol stack, RAN and CN through deep packet inspection.
  • Understand the 3GPP standard in a real over-the-air environment.
  • Understand how to change the open-source OAI code base to implement and test advanced wireless algorithms.

PREFACE (click to expand)

Practical experimentation with cellular networks has been historically reserved exclusively for network vendors and telecommunication operators, primarily due to high equipment costs and licensing constraints.
In recent years, the state of play has been changing with the advent of open-source 3GPP protocol stacks based on increasingly more affordable Software-Defined Radio (SDR) systems.
In this context, the OpenAirInterfaceTM (OAI) project emerges as the leading open-source initiative that provides a reference implementation of 5G base station (gNB), User Equipment (UE), and 5G core network, standard-compliant with 3GPP NR SA and that runs on general-purpose x86 computing platforms along with off-the-shelf SDR hardware platforms.

  • The OAI is an open-source project established by EURECOM and welcomes contributions to anyone who signs the license agreement.
  • The OAI software stack is used by many different R&D teams worldwide.
    Apart from being an ideal platform for 5G and 6G collaborative research, we believe that OAI has a strong potential for educating graduate students and training wireless engineers on the practical aspects of 5G cellular networks.
  • The OAI code is free for download and use; however, because of its open-source nature and flexibility, it is not meant to be used directly by graduate students in teaching Labs.
    With the OAIBOX product line, Allbesmart wants to offer a plug-and-play solution that works as an abstraction layer of open-source complexities, contributing towards the adoption of OAI in teaching Labs and training centres.
    The OAIBOX product was inspired by our experience as developers, key contributors, and testers of the 5G OAI stack.
  • The OAIBOX Dashboard is a web-based platform with pre-defined and easy-to-use 5G configurations, accessible through intuitive menus to facilitate hands-on experiments of 5G use cases.
    End-to-end test results can be measured against KPIs shown in real-time plots that can be stored for further analysis and discussion.
  • We are creating a 5G Lab Manual with several 5G Lab exercises to be replicated by students, addressing different aspects of the 5G protocol stack.
    For each exercise, a Pre-Lab section summarises the most important background of the 3GPP NR standard, including key references to the TS required to understand the outcome of each step-by-step experiment.
  • For some Labs, we also explain how to change the 5G configuration in the OAI code base, preparing students and future researchers for advanced uses of OAI beyond the pre-defined 5G lab exercises in the 5G Lab Manual.
  • Historically wireless networks have been taught based on theoretical models and reliance on simulation tools constructed under simplifying assumptions and usually addressing a single protocol layer.
    We believe that the OAIBOX, with its full 5G stack and over-the-air transmission, is a transformative approach to teaching practical aspects of cellular networks, preparing students for the global standard adopted by the industry.

Thank you for supporting us in acquiring the OAIBOX and for providing valuable feedback. This motivates us to invest further in new features and training material.

Finally, we would like to thank the OAI Software Alliance (OSA) and the overall OAI community that, for many years, has been working to democratise wireless innovation.
We hope you enjoy your OAIBOX test network!

The Allbesmart team.

The following is a sample of the included laboratory exercises:

  Prerequisites:       A background in digital wireless communications is required. Background in 3GPP standard is helpful but not required.  

  1. Over-the-air and over-the-cable connections
  2. The OAIBOX Dashboard
    1. The Main panel
      1. The 5G CN functions
      2. The gNB and UE
  3. The UEs KPIs explained
    1. RSSI
    2. RSRP
    3. CQI
    4. MCS
    5. BLER
    6. Bitrate
    7. SNR
    8. SINR
  4. Connecting the Quectel UE to OAIBOX
    1. Using Windows
    2. Using Linux
  5. Setting up your first OAIBOX 5G speed test
  1. Changing the 5G NR bandwidth
    1. Overview of the 5G NR frame structure and resource grid
    2. 5G NR throughput computation
    3. Changing the 5G NR bandwidth using the OAIBOX Dashboard
    4. Measuring the impact on throughput and spectrum efficiency
      1. 20MHz, 30MHz and 40MHz
      2. Comparing with the computed theoretical values
    5. Changing the 5G NR bandwidth in the OAI configuration files   advanced topic
  2. Changing the 5G NR central carrier frequency
    1. Overview of NR operating bands
    2. Changing from n77 (default) to n41 using the OAIBOX Dashboard
    3. Confirmation using the Quectel AT commands
    4. Visualising the 5G radio signal in a spectrum analyser
    5. Changing the central frequency in the OAI configuration files   advanced topic
  3. Changing the gNB Tx RF power
    1. Modifying the extra attenuation using the OAIBOX Dashboard
      1. Visualising the impact on the UE KPIs
  4. Changing the 5G Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS)
    1. Using the pre-defined values at the OAIBOX Dashboard
      1. Visualising the PUSCH I/Q constellation using the OAI scope
      2. Visualising the impact on the UE KPIs
  5. Changing the 5G TDD configuration
    1. Using the pre-defined values at the OAIBOX Dashboard
      1. Testing an assymetric DL/UL use case scenario
      2. Visualising the impact on the UE KPIs
  6. Changing the 5G BWP configuration