Vodafone hopes to avoid open RAN Catch-22, launches U.K. lab

Vodafone has launched a lab to drive RAN’s open development as the mobile operator’s head of network hopes to avoid a Catch-22 situation.

The UK operator is a vocal defender of the open RAN network architecture and wants to ensure that products live up to their promises. Located on the Newbury campus, Vodafone’s new R&D lab aims to help open RAN vendors refine products and enter the market more easily.

“We want to avoid a Catch-22 situation where operators are waiting to buy perfect products, but OpenRAN vendors need investment to improve their products,” said Andrea Donna, Vodafone’s chief network officer in the UK. statement. “That’s why we’re announcing this investment in a new R&D lab, as well as a commitment to 2,500 OpenRAN sites in the UK province.”

Testing and validation are a key focus, with 30 engineers initially set up to provide practical assistance.

CONNECTED: Vodafone Ireland uses open RAN technology on 30 sites

The effort was praised by Britain’s Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman.

“Vodafone is paving the way for mobile networks with a variety of different equipment providers, and the Newbury facility will put the UK at the forefront of the telecommunications revolution – creating new jobs and opportunities for other businesses,” Warman said.

The UK government has set aside £ 250 million (about $ 345 million) as part of the country’s 5G diversification strategy. Announced last fall following the UK’s decision to remove Huawei’s facilities from the 5G network, 5G strategy recognizes three main focuses: supporting existing suppliers; attracting new suppliers to the market in the United Kingdom; and accelerating the development and implementation of open interface solutions.

February report (PDF) from the UK Science and Technology Committee warned that the strategy lacks clear milestones and that an open RAN does not guarantee success. The Committee recommended a more detailed action plan and breakdown of the budget, as well as clear steps and deadlines for achieving the UK Government’s objectives.

CONNECTED: Mavenir, Xilinx combine into an open RAN massive MIMO

Vodafone’s lab appears to be aimed at a direct proposal for the strategy, which includes the creation of a UK research and development ecosystem “to accelerate and move forward in the development of interoperable technologies, including a major Open RAN study in the UK”.

Open RAN benefits that Vodafone advertises include a variety of suppliers, increased competition and innovation, and improved environmental impact by optimizing specific elements in the RAN supply chain.

More cost-effective upgrades in time and cost are also part of the appeal, with a focus on software-defined operations with agnostic and interoperable vendor network components.

The move to open a RAN will allow Vodafone to devote more resources and investment to software development, the operator said.

“OpenRAN promises significant benefits, including innovation, competition and carbon savings. But we will only provide these benefits if we support the ecosystem, “Donna added.

CONNECTED: Vodafone includes a stand-alone 5G network in Germany

In January, Vodafone united with other major operators Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefónica to commit to deploying and deploying open RAN for 5G. Dish Network is pursuing the construction of 5G in the United States, focused on the open RAN architecture.

And the Texas-based Mavenir just scored An investment of $ 500 million from Koch Strategic Platforms, which took a minority stake in open source software provider RAN.