Sunday 22 November 2020

Vodafone Accelerates Open RAN Innovation, Evangelizes Benefits to Other Operators

Vodafone has taken a lead in Open RAN trials and deployments. It has been very active in the Telecom Infra Project for the last 3 years but it has become more vocal and active recently. In addition to all the announcements, it has also released an eBook available here

Back in August, Vodafone become the first UK mobile operator to switch on a live Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) 4G site enabling the introduction of more suppliers for mobile networks. The first site is connecting Vodafone customers around the Royal Welsh Showground in Powys, Wales. This was using the kit from Mavenir. Mavenir Open RAN Demo from TIP Summit 2019 is available here

Earlier this month, Vodafone reiterated again that it will deploy the open interface, disaggregated radio access network technology at a minimum of 2,600 sites in the UK by 2027, the year by which UK operators must have rid themselves of Huawei gear. A Vodafone spokesperson fleshed out the strategy in a call with TelecomTV

The 2,600 sites is a minimum commitment: That number of sites, which have already been identified and which are in rural areas of the UK (in the south-west), will be built out with Open RAN technology. Vodafone has started its vendor evaluation process, expects to select its suppliers in 2021, and will begin deployments in 2022. 

It is not sharing any details about the capex it has set aside for Open RAN or which companies are at the front of the queue to be selected, though the likes of US vendor Mavenir and UK startup Lime Micro, which have been working with Vodafone UK on Open RAN trials in Wales, will clearly be hoping to be involved. But there will be plenty of competition from other specialists, such as Altiostar, Parallel Wireless and Comba Telecom, as well as bigger names such as Fujitsu and NEC (which, with Altiostar, is working on Open RAN trials with Vodafone Netherlands).

This week, Vodafone Ireland announced partnership with Parallel Wireless on Ireland’s first Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN), bringing 4G coverage to 30 new locations. The sites are being built on an O-RAN architecture with a Remote Radio Unit (RRU) provided by Comba Telecom, Parallel Wireless Distributed Unit (DU) and Central Unit (CU) software running on a vBBU (virtual Baseband Unit) provided by Supermicro and deployed on site. The DU/CU software connects to Parallel Wireless' Near Real-time Intelligent Controller (RIC), located in a Dublin data center on HP hardware using VMWare ESXi v6.7 virtualized environment. Parallel Wireless Open RAN Demo from TIP Summit 2019 is available here.

Johan Wibergh, Group Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone said in a LinkedIn post, "OpenRAN continues to gain traction. Vodafone will be the first company in Ireland to use this exciting new technology to deliver 4G coverage more quickly to 30 locations in remote parts of the country. This is a major boost to rural communities in need of a digital lifeline. Well done to the team. The news follows hot on the heels of the OpenRAN UK plans unveiled recently and underlines our commitment to helping new, smaller suppliers enter the market. With the OpenRAN ecosystem still in its infancy, it needs continued industry and government support across Europe."

At the Open RAN summit 2020, Yago Tenorio, the current Chairman of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Head of Group Network Architecture at Vodafone, outlined the international operator’s Open RAN developments and plans, highlighted the importance of open networking for the future of communications service providers, and identified the key areas of development that need to be addressed if Open RAN technology is to play a major role in carrier networks of the future and help deliver 5G’s potential. Thanks to Telecom TV for making all the talks available here. His talk is embedded below.

Related Posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment