Vodafone, NEC Europe, and open vRAN specialist, Altiostar, have announced the first successful voice call made on an open virtual Radio Access Network (Open RAN) on Vodafone's network in the Netherlands.
Given the huge amount of investment required to introduce new 5G services, mobile network operators (MNOs) around the planet are keen to find more affordable ways to deliver their services, and Open RAN, which enables MNOs to use software and hardware from different vendors, rather than being tied into an exclusive partnership, is generating a lot of excitement within the industry.
"We are delighted to work together with NEC towards the first live Open RAN site," said Ruud Koeyvoets, director of mobile networks at Vodafone. "The introduction of the technology enables us to introduce new suppliers, such as Altiostar, giving us greater flexibility when rolling out our mobile network. We're proud to be pioneering the development of Open RAN and will be monitoring the performance of this pilot."
Multiple deployment scenarios
During the course of this trial, Vodafone and NEC intend to work with a number of the world’s leading Open RAN technology vendors, such as Altiostar, as well as other 5G radio vendors, using commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware from third parties. According to Vodafone, this will enable the company to transform its network to a “software-based one suiting multiple deployment scenarios”.
"We are proud to embark on this journey together with Vodafone that will transform mobile network economics, while deploying technology with greater flexibility, greater efficiencies, and more agility," said Yogarajah Gopikrishna, general manager at NEC Europe. "By integrating best of breed solutions, NEC, as an experienced Open RAN System Integrator, is committed to bring transformative change to the telecommunications space leveraging our long history and experience in mobile network solutions."
Open RAN technology is exciting MNOs, because it teases a future where ‘white-box’ telco equipment could become reality, and software and hardware within a network could be created using software and hardware from multiple vendors.