Pioneered by Vodafone and its partners,
Open RAN will lead to a more cost-effective, secure, energy efficient and customer-focused network of the future.
What is Open RAN?
Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) is a new approach to building the mobile networks that are needed to connect smartphones and devices to the internet and other users. Traditional RAN solutions generally require telecommunications operators to work with single suppliers across an entire mobile site. This approach can be a barrier to entry for smaller suppliers that might not have the financial requirements or the resources to build and manage solutions across the entire RAN ecosystem (e.g. radio antenna, baseband units, CU/DU servers, management and orchestration software etc.).
What are the advantages of OpenRAN?
The disaggregation of hardware and software components of the network lowers the barrier of entry for new suppliers, enabling Vodafone to add greater resilience to its supply chain by working with a greater number and more diverse pool of suppliers.
Creates opportunities for niche/specialist suppliers
Bringing down the barriers to entry allows Vodafone to work with more specialist suppliers. In the software domain, this is more relevant, because the network needs to be supported by more specialised solutions as it becomes more “intelligent”. Disaggregation of hardware and software enables this.
Catalyst for innovation
Competition encourages innovation.
Energy efficiency gains
Instead of looking at the bigger RAN picture, breaking down the different components through OpenRAN allows companies to focus more acutely on energy efficiency programmes in specific areas. Multiple smaller gains will lead to a better net result.
Focus on software operations
By ensuring any software and hardware components of the network are vendor agnostic and interoperable, upgrades to orchestration, management and automation software do not necessarily mean hardware components have to be replaced.
Vodafone is building Europe’s first commercial Open RAN network
In 2021, Vodafone unveiled its strategic vendors – Dell, NEC, Samsung Electronics, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies – to jointly deliver the first commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Europe. We believe the move will spark other large-scale Open RAN launches and spearhead the next wave of digital transformation across Europe.
With political and industrial policy support from the European Commission and the national governments of the EU, Open RAN has the potential to bring more European companies into this emerging market.
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 is being built jointly with Dell, NEC, Samsung and Wind River. Vodafone also expects to use new radio equipment defined under the Evenstar programme, a joint initiative it contributes to. Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies are providing support to ensure interoperability between all the components.
Vodafone has switched on the UK’s first 5G Open RAN site, marking the beginning of the first scaled Open RAN project in Europe.
Dell Technologies, NEC, Samsung, Wind River, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies selected to build one of the largest Open RAN networks in the world.
See our strategy in action
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Open RAN research, reports and white papers
Vodafone and partners regularly publish updates on the progress of Open RAN development. You can find our latest Open RAN research updates, reports and white papers here.