British mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone UK has announced the switch on of what it claims is the country’s first 5G Open RAN site. With the site located in Bath, the cellco has said it is the first of 2,500 planned 5G and 4G Open RAN sites that it has committed to deploying by 2027, while calling it ‘a major step in supporting the government’s ambition to accelerate the development of the Open RAN ecosystem’.
As part of what it termed the ‘First Site Installation’ (‘FSI’), the MNO confirmed that the following Open RAN-compliant technology was being deployed: Samsung virtualised Radio Access Network (vRAN) Solutions, as well as technical, product and integration support; Dell open hardware servers; Intel technologies to enable optimised solutions, including Intel Xeon processors, workload acceleration and connectivity; and Wind River Studio for management of containerised Open RAN CU/DU workloads, automation, orchestration, and lifecycle management of network functions. Meanwhile, Capgemini Engineering and Keysight Technologies were said to have provided testing and integration services in the Vodafone lab to ensure interoperability of the multi-vendor ecosystem.
Looking ahead, Vodafone UK has said that Open RAN 4G and 5G antennas from Samsung and NEC are to be deployed from ‘mid-2022’. According to the cellco, once interoperability tests for these radio units have been completed in the lab, the units will be deployable in a ‘plug and play’ manner on the existing Open RAN infrastructure.