Vodafone starts rollout of commercial Open RAN in Romania

Vodafone is installing new Open radio access network (RAN) sites in 20 cities across Romania to give customers a highly responsive network which will boost innovation and increase industrial efficiency within the country.

Open RAN is the universal network for the future. Unlike traditional single-supplier mobile sites, operators can use software and hardware from a diverse vendor supply chain, which in turn drives more innovation and improved energy efficiency. Customers benefit from a fast and secure mobile network which can be scaled quickly and cost effectively to meet peaks in demand, as well as new cloud-based services.

In Romania, Vodafone is working with several partners, including Samsung for 2G, 4G and 5G radio and baseband units (for transmitting customer traffic from the mast to the core network), Dell PowerEdge servers designed for cloud-based Open RAN workloads from Dell Technologies, and Containers as a Service (CaaS) software from Wind River (also known as abstraction layer software). Vodafone has been at the forefront of building a stronger vendor ecosystem through Open RAN, including the integration of multi-vendor hardware and software, and more recently, new dedicated silicon architecture.

Today’s announcement follows successful tests Vodafone started with Samsung and other partners last year in Romania. It also builds on other European trials and Vodafone’s commercial rollout of Open RAN to 2,500 sites in the UK, which started in August 2023. These initiatives prove that Open RAN’s performance is either on a par or exceeds that of the legacy equipment in most measurements, including 4G and 5G call success rate, as well as download and upload speeds across multiple spectrum frequencies.

Alberto Ripepi, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone, said: “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.”

This commercial deployment in Romania will cover urban cities to deliver high quality and reliable commercial network services to Vodafone’s customers. It will eventually allow operators to reduce costs by sharing all hardware components (for example radio units) while independently managing their own RAN software on a common cloud infrastructure. As a result, each company can tailor services and capacity to their specific customer needs, while ensuring each operator’s data is securely isolated.

Also, in future, Open RAN’s superior flexibility will allow customers to take full advantage of 5G Standalone (5GSA), which upgrades the telecoms network core as well as the radio antennas. An advanced 5GSA network will deliver low latency applications and private ‘network slicing’ for industries of all sizes to help revitalise Europe’s industrial base.

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