Vodafone’s Open RAN initiatives with Nokia and Samsung

Telecom operator Vodafone announced several initiatives as part of its investment in Open Radio Access Network (RAN).
Vodafone 5G ItalyVodafone plans to conduct a commercial pilot of 5G Open Radio Access Network (RAN) at mobile sites across two rural areas in Germany – its largest European market – starting in early 2023. This will be the first deployment of Open RAN technology in Germany.

Following field tests earlier this year in Plauen, Germany, Vodafone is now ready to take the next step in supporting the German Government’s ambition to grow the Open RAN ecosystem. Vodafone’s Open RAN pilot, using software and radio equipment from Samsung, will take place in the German states of South East Bavaria and North East Lower Saxony.

It is a key stage in Vodafone’s plan to equip 30 percent of all its European sites with Open RAN by 2030.

Santiago Tenorio, Director of Network Architecture for Vodafone, said: “This will be the first Open RAN system in Germany that not only uses open interfaces but is built on both hardware and software from multiple vendors that is fully interchangeable and interoperable based on the choice of the operator.

Meanwhile, Vodafone and Samsung announced that they are jointly cooperating with major silicon provider Marvell to accelerate the performance and adoption of 5G Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) across Europe.

Vodafone and Nokia have agreed to jointly work on a fully compliant Open Radio Access Network (RAN) solution, marking a significant milestone for the mobile industry.

The combination of Nokia’s ReefShark System on Chip (SoC) technology, developed in cooperation with Marvell, with standard Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) servers will enable the Open RAN system to reach functionality and performance parity with traditional mobile radio networks.

Nokia’s ReefShark SoC boosts the Layer-1 processing capability, which is necessary to connect many users to the mobile base station and support high levels of mobile data traffic. Nokia is the first large European-based RAN equipment supplier to fully support Open RAN.

This partnership with Nokia will help Vodafone meet its target of having 30 percent of its European networks running on Open RAN by 2030, as well as boost the EU’s global technology leadership in digital infrastructure.

Next year Vodafone and Nokia aim to demonstrate an Open RAN baseband system, which processes customer mobile traffic, using in-line Layer-1 acceleration, in a major step towards wider Open RAN adoption. This solution will be deployed together with third party COTS server providers.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone, said: “Open RAN is transforming mobile masts into automated software-driven, smart towers capable of supporting new applications for use in telemedicine, homes, transport, and factories.”

Raghib Hussain, President, Products and Technologies of Marvell, said: “Our no-compromise O-RAN solution, based on our globally proven 5G silicon, is helping our customers and partners innovate on system architecture and maintain very high performance standards set by established mobile networks.”

Qualcomm Technologies and Vodafone said they plan to develop, test and integrate 5G distributed units (DUs) and Radio Unit (RU) with Massive MIMO capabilities, to deliver the commercial deployment of Open RAN in Europe.