TIM takes its first step into Open RAN territory

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Apr 27, 2021

  • Italian national operator is deploying Open RAN gear in its live network
  • City of Faenza is location for initial deployment
  • JMA Wireless and MTI are the key Open RAN tech partners
  • TIM is one of the European operator heavyweights championing Open RAN

TIM (Telecom Italia) has introduced Open RAN technology into its commercial mobile network in the city of Faenza, located in the north-east province of Ravenna, making it one of the first operators in Europe, and certainly the first in Italy, to follow up its verbal commitment to disaggregated radio access network architectures with an early deployment. 

The operator isn’t saying how many 4G/LTE cell sites already have the Open RAN technology deployed, or how many customers could be served currently using the disaggregated RAN architecture, but says it will expand its deployment throughout the year and have “full coverage of Faenza,” a small city with a population of about 70,000, this year, with other cities to be added to the Open RAN rollout schedule during 2021. 

The initial deployment will provide 4G services but “this venture will also extend to 5G solutions” in the future, noted the operator. For the Faenza deployment the operator has selected Syracuse, New York-based JMA Wireless, a developer of virtualized RAN and Open RAN software, and Hsinchu, Taiwan-based radio unit vendor Microelectronics Technology (MTI), as its Open RAN vendor partners. 

TIM is one of the five major network operators to have signed up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on The Implementation of Open RAN Based Networks In Europe, an initiative that aims to foster the development of a European Open RAN ecosystem: The other signatories are Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone.

Open RAN is still very much in its infancy, with only a few experimental deployments in Europe so far, but the market is moving quickly to support the plans of supporting operators, particularly around their requirements for 5G and for the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC): Just last week two new Open RAN labs were launched in the UK, one by Vodafone and one by Mavenir, to help accelerate European developments.

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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