5G Massive MIMO is Open RAN’s toughest nut to crack, says Vodafone’s Tenorio

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Nov 25, 2020

  • Vodafone’s Head of Group Network Architecture shares his views on Open RAN
  • Open RAN needs more operator support to accelerate R&D, says Yago Tenorio
  • Toughest nut to crack is 5G massive MIMO capabilities, he says

It will be some time before Open RAN systems can deliver an equivalent performance and scale to that offered by the traditional, integrated systems currently being deployed in 5G radio access networks, with certain elements still in need of much more R&D effort, according to Vodafone’s Head of Group Network Architecture, Yago Tenorio.

In an exclusive Keynote Executive Interview for TelecomTV’s recent Open RAN Summit, Tenorio noted that “5G massive MIMO in particular is a complex problem to crack and will require not just a lot of software development but also hardware, in particular semiconductors… we will need new solutions to be developed in terms of chipsets that are powering those efficient, super-complex radios. It is difficult to say how long that is going to take maybe, you know, as little as maybe 12 months [to] 18 months to [achieve a] full solution. It can be later if Open RAN adoption is low in the industry,” he warned. 

“That is why I think is important that all other operators join us and follow us in the rollout of Open RAN solutions – I think the investment and the development will accelerate with that,” stated Tenorio.

And it’s not like Open RAN massive MIMO development isn’t already underway, he noted during the live Open RAN Summit Q&A session held on 19 November: During that session, and responding to questions from the TelecomTV community, Tenorio noted that “Massive MIMO will be the toughest nut to crack,” but that multiple companies are already developing products that are either already available for Open RAN deployments or will come to market soon. (See The After Show… with TelecomTV - Day 3.)

He added that Vodafone had recently conducted an industry Open RAN radio hardware RFI (request for information) that included massive MIMO as one of the focus areas, and that companies such as Airpsan, GigaTera, NEC, NTS and Xilinx had shown up as the leaders. (See Vodafone IDs Open RAN radio unit frontrunners.)

The need for further development on 5G massive MIMO for Open RAN was just one of the topics covered during Tenorio’s interview, as he also discussed: How Vodafone plans to make use of Open RAN in Europe; the readiness of Open RAN technology for deployment today; the broader topic of disaggregation in telecoms network architectures; the ongoing role of standards and specifications groups; and the importance of supporting new telecoms network technology startups. 

Check out the full interview: Accelerating Open RAN Innovation.

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