Vodafone and Orange complete calls using Open RAN shared network

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Vodafone and Orange have announced the successful completion of a pilot project involving 4G calls over a cluster of shared commercial network sites near Bucharest, Romania.

This achievement, based on Open RAN (Radio Access Network) technology, represents a groundbreaking step in the evolution of telecoms infrastructure.

Open RAN technology – which decouples software and hardware functionalities – enables mobile base stations to be upgraded remotely, swiftly, and cost-effectively. This drastically reduces the necessity for physical site visits due to enhanced network automation.

In the context of RAN sharing, it also empowers operators to manage their virtualised RAN software on a common cloud infrastructure—ensuring greater autonomy and differentiation while sharing network costs.

Bruno Zerbib, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Orange, commented:

“This first pilot deployment of Open RAN within Orange is an important milestone to demonstrate Open RAN is now mature for roll-out in brownfield networks. It opens the door for wider scale deployments across the group, and paves the way towards fully automated and intelligent networks.”

During this pilot, Vodafone and Orange collaborated with carefully chosen vendor partners to demonstrate the advantages of a virtualised radio access network based on Open RAN standardised interfaces. This included the capability to implement remote software changes seamlessly.

The success of this pilot programme not only signifies a technological milestone but also reaffirms Vodafone and Orange’s commitment to extending mobile networks to rural communities across Europe.

The Open RAN sharing model developed by the two companies serves as a blueprint, promising reduced costs through shared hardware components and independent management of RAN software in the cloud. This approach enables the provision of customised services to customers.

Alberto Ripepi, Chief Network Officer of Vodafone, said:

“Alongside Orange, we have developed a model which will serve as a blueprint to extend mobile networks to rural communities across Europe.

Open RAN sharing will allow us to reduce costs by sharing hardware components while independently managing our own RAN software in the cloud to be able to offer differentiated services to our respective customers.” 

The success of this pilot programme is a testament to the advantages of Open RAN technology, offering flexibility in expanding or upgrading radio sites while maintaining low costs and energy consumption.

Vodafone and Orange’s achievement not only aligns with the companies’ commitment to Open RAN but also supports the European Commission’s ambitious goal of having 5G coverage in all populated areas by 2030.

(Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash)

See also: UK joins leading nations to strengthen telecoms security and innovation

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