Vodafone has revealed the name of its vendors – Dell Technologies, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies – for the deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Europe.
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 program, 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: “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.”
Samsung will be a reference RAN software provider. Samsung and NEC will supply Massive MIMO – a method to boost capacity of a mobile antenna – along with Samsung and Evenstar radio units, which establish a signal between users’ smartphones or devices and the mobile mast.
Evenstar radios are part of a joint effort between Facebook and Vodafone to create ‘white-box’ radio units within the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and are a key component for Open RAN success.
The initial deployments will be implemented using COTS (common off the shelf) Dell EMC PowerEdge servers to support the combined DU/CU function running Containers as a Service (CaaS) software from Wind River Studio, which will provide a distributed cloud-native platform hosting the Open RAN applications and virtualised RAN from Samsung. This means that Vodafone can mix and match and install new software releases and upgrades easily.
Keysight Technologies will deliver its comprehensive Open RAN test solution portfolio designed to support conformance, interoperability and E2E system testing.
Capgemini Engineering will be the partner within lab testing to ensure interworking of the Open RAN multi-vendor ecosystem.
The O-RAN Alliance 7-2x split, that defines the interface between the radio antenna and the baseband unit, will be used in the deployments. The resulting Open RAN network is expected to improve energy efficiency compared to the existing solution from traditional widely deployed RAN products.