Network-Aided Intelligent Traffic Steering in 6G O-RAN: A Multi-Layer Optimization Framework

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, 2024, 42, (2), pp. 389-405
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
To enable an intelligent, programmable and multi-vendor radio access network (RAN) for 6G networks, considerable efforts have been made in standardization and development of open RAN (O-RAN). So far, however, the applicability of O-RAN in controlling and optimizing RAN functions has not been widely investigated. In this paper, we jointly optimize the flow-split distribution, congestion control and scheduling (JFCS) to enable an intelligent traffic steering application in O-RAN. Combining tools from network utility maximization and stochastic optimization, we introduce a multi-layer optimization framework that provides fast convergence, long-term utility-optimality and significant delay reduction compared to the state-of-the-art and baseline RAN approaches. Our main contributions are three-fold: i) we propose the novel JFCS framework to efficiently and adaptively direct traffic to appropriate radio units; ii) we develop low-complexity algorithms based on the reinforcement learning, inner approximation and bisection search methods to effectively solve the JFCS problem in different time scales; and iii) the rigorous theoretical performance results are analyzed to show that there exists a scaling factor to improve the tradeoff between delay and utility-optimization. Collectively, the insights in this work will open the door towards fully automated networks with enhanced control and flexibility. Numerical results are provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithms in terms of the convergence rate, long-term utility-optimality and delay reduction.
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