How Does Forecasting Affect the Convergence of DRL Techniques in O-RAN Slicing?

by   Ahmad M. Nagib, et al.

The success of immersive applications such as virtual reality (VR) gaming and metaverse services depends on low latency and reliable connectivity. To provide seamless user experiences, the open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture and 6G networks are expected to play a crucial role. RAN slicing, a critical component of the O-RAN paradigm, enables network resources to be allocated based on the needs of immersive services, creating multiple virtual networks on a single physical infrastructure. In the O-RAN literature, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) algorithms are commonly used to optimize resource allocation. However, the practical adoption of DRL in live deployments has been sluggish. This is primarily due to the slow convergence and performance instabilities suffered by the DRL agents both upon initial deployment and when there are significant changes in network conditions. In this paper, we investigate the impact of time series forecasting of traffic demands on the convergence of the DRL-based slicing agents. For that, we conduct an exhaustive experiment that supports multiple services including real VR gaming traffic. We then propose a novel forecasting-aided DRL approach and its respective O-RAN practical deployment workflow to enhance DRL convergence. Our approach shows up to 22.8 86.3 rate, and number of converged scenarios respectively, enhancing the generalizability of the DRL agents compared with the implemented baselines. The results also indicate that our approach is robust against forecasting errors and that forecasting models do not have to be ideal.


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