U.K. carrier Vodafone announced it has switched on what it claims to be the first 5G Open RAN (O-RAN) site in the country, the telco said in a release.
The site installed in the city of Bath is the first of 2,500 5G and 4G O-RAN sites that Vodafone committed to deploy as part of the U.K. government’s ambition to accelerate the development of the Open RAN ecosystem. Vodafone said that the 2,500 sites are expected to be fully deployed by 2027.
Last month, the U.K. government and telecoms operators announced shared ambitions to expand support for the O-RAN ecosystem.
Andrea Dona, chief network officer of Vodafone UK, said: “This is the beginning of a new chapter for the mobile industry. Our team has been working tirelessly to take O-RAN technology from a theory in our lab to our customers in the real world.
“O-RAN as a concept is only five years old, and we’re already fundamentally changing how we deploy connectivity infrastructure. This is a watershed moment in the telecoms industry, and a catalyst for change and evolution,” Dona added.
Vodafone said that the First Site Installation (FSI) included:
-Samsung virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) Solutions, as well as technical, product and integration support
-Dell open hardware servers
-Intel technologies, including Intel Xeon processors, workload acceleration and connectivity
-Wind River Studio for management of containerized O-RAN CU/DU workloads, automation, orchestration, and lifecycle management of network functions
-Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies have provided testing and integration services in the Vodafone lab to ensure interoperability of the multi-vendor ecosystem.
The U.K. telco also noted that O-RAN 4G and 5G antennas from Samsung and NEC will be deployed from mid-2022. Once interoperability tests for these radio units have been completed in the lab, the units can be deployed in a “plug and play” manner on the existing O-RAN infrastructure.
Thomas Riedel, head of Samsung Networks Europe at Samsung Electronics, said: “We are proud to begin the UK’s first wide-scale OpenRAN commercial deployment, delivering carrier-grade 5G vRAN solutions to Vodafone. Based on our vRAN experience with tier-1 operators around the globe, this is another meaningful milestone for us, and we look forward to continue working with Vodafone.”
“Vodafone’s commitment to pushing OpenRAN technologies forward will deliver new levels of innovation to its customers, partners and the open ecosystem. We look forward to reaching more milestones with Vodafone as we accelerate their OpenRAN deployment and offer new opportunities for businesses, communities and the telecommunications industry,” said Dennis Hoffman, SVP and general manager, Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business.
In August 2020, Vodafone said its 5G network was providing services in 123 towns and cities across the country.
When the carrier first launched next-generation services in July of 2019, it did so in parts of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Glasgow.
In June, Vodafone launched a commercial pilot of 5G Standalone service in London, Manchester and Cardiff.
The commercial pilot will focus on testing new capabilities being introduced as part of 5G Standalone technologies, such as network slicing. It will also enable partners to test new Standalone-enabled devices on a live network.