The xRAN Forum on Friday unveiled its inaugural industry specification and said it was likely to be the first of several introduced this year.

Officials said xRAN Fronthaul Specification Version 1.0 will enable companies to develop remote radio and baseband units that could be widely deployed — with virtualized infrastructure and management systems using standardized data models.

"Our vision to develop, standardize and promote an open alternative to the traditionally closed, hardware-based RAN architecture is becoming a reality," xRAN Forum Director Sachin Katti said in a statement.

The standard, the group said, addresses BBU and RU interoperability, as well as efficient bandwidth scaling, Ethernet-based transport layer solutions and advanced receivers and coordination functions.

It will also provide support for "LTE, NR, 2T-8T RU products and Massive MIMO beamforming antenna systems."

"xRAN compliant radios coupled with virtualized basebands provide much needed flexibility to support rapid development and deployment of RAN products," said Verizon Network Technology Development and Planning VP Bill Stone. "By adopting xRAN specifications, we will be able to speed innovation, increase collaboration and be more agile to a quickly evolving market."

Forum operator members include Verizon, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, NTT Domoco, Telstra, and SK Telecom, with 20 additional equipment makers, tech companies and universities as contributing members.

The ORAN Alliance, announced at this year's Mobile World Congress, will also combine and expand the efforts of the xRAN Forum and C-RAN Alliance.