Euro telco giants unveil Open RAN labs in Germany and France, Open RAN

Eager to back up their actions, four of Europe’s largest telecommunications companies have put their names and resources behind two new joint laboratory facilities, one in Germany and the other in France, dedicated to Open RAN R&D.

In Germany, a consortium of the country’s three largest network operators – Deutsche Telekom (lead), Telefónica Deutschland and Vodafone Deutschland – and a group of suppliers, researchers and test specialists have set up and funded a new “open” laboratory called i14y, which aims to accelerate the development of Open RAN and other disaggregated network architectures.

In France, the Orange Open RAN Integration Center, based in Orange Gardens in Châtillon, near Paris, has a number of partner providers, but does not include other network operators: it has received the status of Open Testing and Integration Center (OTIC) from the O- RAN.

Starting in Germany … lab i14y, already operating on Deutsche Telekom’s innovative Winterfeldtstraße campus, is funded by a € 17 million grant from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), an amount that will be matched by the consortium’s investments over the next three years. years.

In addition to the three operators, the i14y consortium also includes:

  • BISDN – Berlin-based specialist in software-defined networks)
  • Capgemini Engineering – technology developer and integrator
  • EANTC – Berlin-based network test specialist
  • Fraunhofer HHI (Heinrich Hertz Institute) – German Institute for Telecommunication Research
  • highstreet technology – a Berlin-based professional network services company
  • Nokia – a major traditional RAN provider that has long been attached to the Open RAN movement
  • Rohde & Schwarz – supplier of test and measurement systems
  • The Technical University of Berlin – does what it says on the tin ….

According to DT, the laboratory will have close links with a number of relevant industry organizations, including OCP (Open Compute Project), ONF (Open Networking Foundation), ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform), O-RAN Alliance and TIP (Telecom Infra Project). Some of the early results for the lab may be as a host for multi-vendors for interoperability plugfests organized by the O-RAN Alliance and TIP.

Open RAN integration and interoperability testing will be the laboratory’s initial focus, in order to develop a “comprehensive integration and performance testing environment and ultimately market-ready certification,” DT said. Ultimately, the goal is to make the lab’s capabilities remotely accessible through open APIs, in practice the development of a Lab-as-a-Service, a move that would facilitate the initial location in Berlin to interact with i14y satellite facilities in Düsseldorf and Munich. operated by Telefónica and Nokia.

For the consortium partners, the i14y laboratory is part of a wider effort undertaken by the signatories. Open RAN MoU which was hit earlier this year by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, TIM (Telecom Italia) and Vodafone: These operators shared their Open the wish list of RAN tech in May and pledged to do what they could to accelerate the development of Open RAN and help develop a next-generation European network innovation hub. As such, the laboratory is “crucial for the rapid development of the German and European ecosystem by system component providers, software suppliers and system integrators”, according to Deutsche Telekom, which is also making progress in its own disaggregated field network plans. tests in Neubrandenburg, which is called “O-RAN Town” by the German operator giant. (See DT builds its O-RAN Town, demonstrates 5G slicing to various vendors.)

Interestingly, this move comes only days after the German MVNO 1 & 1 noted during the announcement of its profit for the third quarter that it must begin construction of its greenfield, Open RAN-based 5G network, with the help of Rakuten symphony, before the end of this year.

In France, Orange is the only operator, but OTIC is joined by a number of partners, namely:

Again, the focus is on ensuring interoperability between different vendors: Orange says that after years of focusing on technical specifications, it is now focused on “developing interoperable open source RAN technical solutions from multiple vendors” and is remarkable that like Nokia , Samsung is also participating as an RAN partner for the lab, which will also be accessible remotely.

“With the creation of the Open RAN Integration Center, open to our partners around the world, we want to accelerate the development of an open, intelligent, cloud-based RAN and create a rich Open RAN ecosystem in Europe. From 2025 onwards, our ambition is to have only Open RAN equipment available across Europe, ”said Orange Technical Director Michael Trabia.

The work being done in the laboratories in Germany and France is, of course, vital to the development of the Open RAN sector in Europe, but as a TelecomTV study conducted during our recent Open RAN summit showed, while integration efforts are considered to be essential, the total total cost of ownership (TCO) models for Open RAN are what the industry would like to know more about. (See The open RAN community needs to focus on TCO models, RIC development: Survey results.)

– Ray Le Mester, Editor-in-Chief, TelecomTV