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Vodafone has unveiled its strategic vendors – Dell, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies – to jointly deliver the first commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Europe. The company believes the move will spark other large-scale Open RAN launches and spearhead the next wave of digital transformation across Europe.
Pioneered by Vodafone and its partners, Open RAN will drive greater innovation through a diverse and open vendor ecosystem. It will lead to a more cost-effective, secure, energy efficient and customer-focused network of the future.
With political and industrial policy support from the European Commission and the national governments of the EU, Open RAN has the potential to bring more European companies into this emerging market. Vodafone and the other major EU telco signatories of the Open RAN MoU believe this will help build a European ecosystem around these novel network architectures and boost the EU’s global technology leadership in digital infrastructure.
Vodafone’s initial focus will be on the 2,500 sites in the UK that it committed to Open RAN in October 2020. It is one of the largest deployments in the world and will be built jointly with Dell, NEC, Samsung and Wind River. Vodafone also expects to use new radio equipment defined under the Evenstar programme, a joint initiative it contributes to. Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies are providing support to ensure interoperability between all the components.
Starting this year, the vendors will work with Vodafone to extend 4G and 5G coverage to more rural places across the South West of England and most of Wales, moving into urban areas in a later phase. Vodafone is also working to launch Open RAN in other countries within both Europe and Africa, enabling the digital society to be accessible to all, with no one left behind.
Johan Wibergh, Vodafone Chief Technology Officer, said: “Open RAN provides huge advantages for customers. Our network will become highly programmable and automated meaning we can release new features simultaneously across multiple sites, add or direct capacity more quickly, resolve outages instantly and provide businesses with on-demand connectivity.
“Open RAN is also reinvigorating our industry. It will boost the digital economy by stimulating greater tech innovation from a wider pool of vendors, bringing much needed diversity to the supply chain.”