Orange announced it will launch an experimental 5G network using a cloud-based open platform and artificial intelligence in July, as the telecom industry rushes to shift services onto the cloud in a bid to cut costs and modernise.
Orange said it will build the network in Lannion, France, in partnership with technology companies such as Mavenir, Casa Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Dell Technologies and Xiaomi.
Mavenir will support cloud 5G Open RAN. Casa Systems will support cloud 5G SA core network. Hewlett Packard Enterprise will support Cloud 5G SA SDM (Subscriber Data Management). Dell Technologies will support infrastructure and servers supporting RAN Centralized Unit, Distributed Unit and Core. Xiaomi is supply devices.
“This experimental network will enable Orange to understand the customer benefit of a fully clouderised network, as well as AI,” Orange’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Trabbia told reporters on a call. “We’ll start small but ramp up quickly to encompass hundreds of users by the end of this year.”
Orange hopes to expand the network, called Pikeo, to other countries in 2022, once it is fully-fledged and able to self-repair thanks to automation and machine learning.
Several telecom companies are experimenting Open Radio Access Network (RAN), which uses software to run network functions on the cloud, a feature requiring less physical equipment.
The Open RAN technology promises to cut costs for operators by employing cloud-based software and commoditized hardware rather proprietary equipment supplied by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.
Orange has said it aims to have 100 percent of its new equipment be compatible with open RAN by 2025, a plan similar to that of Spanish operator Telefonica.