What Is a RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC)?

A RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) is a software-defined key element of the Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) architecture, responsible for optimizing RAN elements and customize RAN functionality at the edge. It manages and optimizes RAN resources to support interoperability across different hardware (RU, servers), and software (DU/CU) components, quick enablement of new services, and triggers near real-time action to improve overall network efficiency. RIC supports innovative use cases that can lower mobile operators’ total costs, enhance customer’s quality of experience (QoE), and quality of service (QoS) -- bringing intelligence, agility, and programmability to radio access networks.

What are the Benefits of RIC?

The RIC provides mobile operators with advanced network control, improve network performance, quick enablement of new services, AI/ML driven network control, and supports low latency applications. RIC effectively balances the RAN load, which alleviates network congestion and improve network performance. It customizes RAN functionality by optimization of regional resources, which enables quick launch of new services to build new revenue streams with personalized services. RIC provides advanced control functionality, leveraging analytics and data-drive approaches including advanced ML/AI tools to improve resource management capabilities.

How Does the RIC Work?

The RIC comprises both non-real-time (non-RT) and near-real-time (near-RT) components, each manages separate functions of the RAN. The non-RT RIC is an element of the operator’s centralized Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) Framework, manages events and resources with a response time of one second or more. It handles lifecycle management for all network elements, configurations management, and many other essential network functions. The near-RT RIC manages events and resources enabling network optimization actions that require a faster response down to 10 milliseconds to one second to complete.

The non-RT RIC optimizes RAN functions by providing model management and enrichment information and policy-based guidance to xApps running on the near-RT RIC, which in turn provides policy feedback to the non-RT RIC.  The non-RT is deployed centrally, while near-RT is deployed on the network edge or regional cloud.

rApps are specialized microservices operating on the non-RT RIC, which provide essential control and management features and functionality; while xApps are hosted on the near-RT RIC. The separation of functionalities enables more efficient and cost-effective management as the RIC customizes network optimization for each network environment and use case.

What is the Importance of RIC?

The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), together with the apps (xApps/rApps), uses a pre-defined interface that allow for increased optimizations through policy-drive, closed-loop automation, leading to accelerated and more flexible service deployments and programmability within the RAN. It helps to strengthen a multi-vendor open ecosystem of interoperable components for a disaggregated and open RAN. It allows mobile network operators to make the best use of network sources in an Open RAN architecture.


As 5G gains momentum and ORAN standards continue to evolve and gain adoption worldwide, the RIC will be a key component in driving radio network automation and optimization, yielding significant benefits in network and user performance, through its features in AI and resource management.

The HTCA-E400, a carrier-grade Open Edge Server, powered by 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors (codenamed Ice lake) with built-in AI Acceleration, for 5G Open RAN, Edge Cloud, and AI edge-focused applications with extensive configuration options. HTCA-E400 is a high-performance appliance designed to leverage edge computing for accelerating 5G deployment. HTCA-E400 supports 5x 1U compute sleds or 2x 2U+1U compute sleds, designed to support FPGA, GPU or Time Sync cards, making it suitable as a consolidated Edge AI server for Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) servers, 5G Edge Cloud, and Central Units (CU) Open RAN platforms.

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