Vodafone preps extensive Open RAN rollout in Romania

  • Vodafone is one of the major Open RAN champions in the telco community
  • It has already deployed the architecture in the UK and has multiple trials underway around Europe 
  • It also has a joint rural Open RAN deployment in Romania with Orange
  • Now it has committed to deploying Open RAN systems in 20 cities in Romania 
  • Samsung, Dell and Wind River are the vendor partners

Vodafone, one of the main telco cheerleaders for Open RAN, has committed to a broad deployment of Open RAN systems across 20 cities in Romania, with Samsung, Dell and Wind River the main vendor partners for the rollout.

The operator has already been trialling Open RAN sites in a rural area outside Bucharest, the country’s capital, in partnership with Orange, but now it’s taking the same Open RAN stack that Vodafone is deploying in the UK into 20 of Romania’s main urban areas.

The Open RAN deployment will cover more than 90 radio access network (RAN) sites in total, which is about 20% of the Vodafone Romania sites in those cities. The technology will be replacing the equipment of “the current incumbent vendor to modernise and include 5G”, according to Vodafone – that incumbent vendor is Huawei Technologies.

Ericsson recently announced a contract to deliver the other 80% – see Strategic partnership between Vodafone Romania and Ericsson for 5G deployment.

Samsung is providing its Open RAN software, which supports 2G, 4G and 5G, network function automation software, Open RAN-compliant triple-band radio antennas (supporting 700MHz, 800MHZ and 900MHz frequency bands in a single unit) and 5G massive MIMO radios that are “suited to dense areas with high customer traffic,” noted Vodafone. 

Dell Technologies is providing its PowerEdge servers, which are “designed for cloud-based Open RAN workloads”, while Wind River is delivering its cloud network platform, referred to by Vodafone as the vendor’s containers-as-a-service (CaaS) software.

This combination of Samsung, Dell and Wind River is the Open RAN technology package that Vodafone is deploying in the UK, where it plans to deploy Open RAN gear at 2,500 sites, and which it is already running in its so-called ‘golden cluster’ urban Open RAN deployment in south-west England – see Vodafone starts swapping Huawei gear for Open RAN systems.

Vodafone Group chief network officer Alberto Ripepi noted: “The momentum behind Open RAN technologies is building, in Vodafone and amongst our partners, as we focus on enhancing the customer experience. As new technologies like generative AI take root and are embedded within businesses, factories, and every-day online interactions, they will require intelligence-based networks powerful enough to support them. Open RAN is designed to do just that.”

The Vodafone announcement is just one of a number of Open RAN deployments to have been unveiled recently, including of course the major announcement from AT&T in the US, the confirmation from Verizon of the breadth of its Open RAN-enabled rollout, news from Canada’s Telus and a small cell rollout by Three in the UK. 

And there’s likely to be more Open RAN news in the coming weeks during MWC24 and more from Vodafone in the near future as it has launched its major RAN request for quotation (RFQ) that covers all of its 170,000 mobile sites and has Open RAN at the heart of its technical requirements. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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