Four major European operators commit to supporting OpenRAN

Four major European operators commit to supporting OpenRAN
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Four of Europe’s largest operators have committed to supporting and deploying OpenRAN solutions.

In a joint statement today, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone said they are joining forces “to support the rollout of Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) as the technology of choice for future mobile networks to the benefit of consumer and enterprise customers across Europe.”

OpenRAN aims to disrupt the current RAN vendor monopoly with interoperable and open-source alternatives which should increase competition, drive innovation, and lower rollout costs.

Claudia Nemat, Chief Technology Officer of Deutsche Telekom, said:

“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.

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.”  

Many governments around the world are supportive of OpenRAN. This is especially true in many Western countries that are seeking cost-effective and innovative alternatives to fill the hole left by the bans of Huawei’s equipment over national security concerns.

The UK government has set aside £250 million as part of a new 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, intended to help bring new vendors into the market. Over half of the new projects announced this week for the UK’s 5G Create scheme are using OpenRAN technology.

Last year, Vodafone UK pledged to use 5G equipment from smaller OpenRAN vendors at one-fifth of its sites from 2027. Today’s announcement from the wider Vodafone Group shows the company is committed to supporting OpenRAN across its business.

Johan Wibergh, CTO of Vodafone Group, said: 

“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.

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.”

The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the four operators commits them to work together with existing and new ecosystem partners, industry bodies like the O-RAN ALLIANCE and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), as well as European policymakers, to ensure the rapid development and deployment of OpenRAN solutions.

Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Telefónica, said:

“OpenRAN is the natural evolution of radio access technologies and it will be key for 5G networks. Telefónica believes the whole industry must work together to make it a reality.

I am excited to be partnering with major European operators to promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility, efficiency, and security of our networks.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for the European industry not only to promote the development of 5G but also to participate in its sustainable technological development.”

OpenRAN offers a range of benefits for carriers beyond cost reductions. Along with virtualisation and automation, the technology will enable operators to add or shift capacity more quickly for end-users, automatically resolve network incidents, and/or provide enterprise-level services on-demand for the so-called Industry 4.0.

With that in mind, it’s really no wonder operators are eager to partner with their traditional competitors to advance the development and deployment of OpenRAN solutions.

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