Vodafone starts deploying innovative OpenRAN technology

Vodafone is testing innovative OpenRAN — open access radio technology in Britain — in a move that could break the grip Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia hold on the telecom equipment market.
Vodafone 5G ItalyOpenRAN standardizes the design of hardware and software in the infrastructure, masts and antennae that make up the radio access network that carries mobile calls and data, Reuters reported.

100 percent of operators are considering using OpenRAN in key scenarios, according to a survey conducted by consultant firm Senza Fili.

43 percent of respondents are open to replace current vendors. Cost savings were mentioned by 25 percent of respondents as a reason to consider multiple vendors. 84 percent of operators will consider deploying RRUs and BBUs from different vendors in OpenRAN deployments, the survey said.

Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator, has trialled the OpenRAN technology in laboratories in South Africa and deployed it in Turkey to deliver 2G and 4G services to customers in both urban and rural areas. It could enable customers to make calls and access data at lower cost.

Vodafonce CEO Nick Read said the telecom operator was ready to fast track OpenRAN into Europe as it sought to expand its list of vendors.

“OpenRAN improves the network economics enabling us to reach more people in rural communities and that supports our goal to build digital societies in which no one is left behind,” he said on Sunday.

China’s Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia dominate the mobile network equipment. Mobile operators generally deploy kit from at least two of them to reduce reliance on a single supplier.

Vodafone said it was working with companies including U.S.-based Parallel Wireless and Mavenir and UK-based Lime Microsystems on OpenRAN technology.

Vodafone said it would launch OpenRAN in 120 rural areas in Britain on Monday, and would start trials in Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo.