Four Major European Telecomm Operators Back Open RAN Developments

Four of Europe’s largest operators – Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange S.A., Telefonica S.A., and...

Photo credit: Open Ran

Four of Europe’s largest operators – Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange S.A., Telefonica S.A., and Vodafone Group Plc – are joining forces to support the rollout of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) as the technology of choice for future mobile networks to the benefit of consumer and enterprise customers across Europe.

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Open RAN is not necessarily a new technology in itself but represents a combination of existing technologies, e.g. virtualization, AI, commercial off-the-shelf parts and open interfaces. Its proponents promise more secure networks without ‘high-risk vendors’ but Open RAN could introduce new systemic risks that must be addressed due to its reliance on open-source software.

“OpenRAN is about network innovation, flexibility, and faster rollout. Deutsche Telekom is committed to its promotion, development and adoption to ensure the best network experience for our customers. To seize this opportunity, it is critical that we join forces with our leading European partners to foster a diverse, competitive and secure 4G/5G ecosystem based on OpenRAN solutions,” said Claudia Nemat, Chief Technology Officer of Deutsche Telekom.

“Through our open labs and community activities, we facilitate smaller players to enter the market with their solutions. To build on this foundational work, we urge government support and funding for community activities that will strengthen the European ecosystem and leadership in 5G.”

Open RAN attracts operators because it would allow them to mix and match vendors, using radio software from one vendor in tandem with general-purpose equipment developed by another. Traditional radio access networks typically force operators to buy all their components from the same supplier, reports LightReading.

“OpenRAN has the power to stimulate European tech innovation using the expertise of the companies that develop it and the governments who support it. Opening up the market to new suppliers, with our ambition and government advocacy, will mean faster 5G deployment, cost-saving network efficiencies, and world-class services,” said Johan Wibergh, CTO of Vodafone Group.

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“We remain committed to rolling out our OpenRAN program across Europe, and we’re taking it even further. We aim to open R&D labs for new, smaller suppliers to develop their products. But to do this we need a supportive investment environment and political backing, and we urge European governments to join us in creating the OpenRAN ecosystem,” Wibergh concluded.

Sam Draper
January 21, 2021

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