Vodafone’s Open RAN network-in-a-box to launch in June

Vodafone's Yago Tenorio shows off the core network-in-a-box technology on the operator's booth at #MWC24.

Vodafone's Yago Tenorio shows off the core network-in-a-box technology on the operator's booth at #MWC24.

  • Vodafone has been developing an Open RAN network-in-a-box product
  • It was unveiled a year ago and has since been in further development
  • Now, with support for multiple frequencies and multiple mobile technologies, it’s set to hit the market in June, says Yago Tenorio

BARCELONA – #MWC24 – Vodafone’s Open RAN network-in-a-box, which was unveiled just ahead of last year’s MWC event, is in the final stages of commercial preparation and will become available in June, according to Yago Tenorio (pictured above), Vodafone fellow and network architecture director at the operator. 

Tenorio unveiled the low-cost, compact product at a media briefing last February (when it was about the size of a small home router) and Vodafone then displayed it at the company’s stand at last year’s show in Barcelona, where it attracted a lot of attention – see Vodafone unveils Open RAN 5G network-in-a-box and Vodafone ready for Open RAN 5G network-in-a-box next step.

Essentially, the product is a complete mobile network in a single box, comprising a software-defined radio (SDR) chipset developed by Lime Microsystems and a Raspberry Pi 4 personal computer that is capable of running any core software stack and RAN software that is suitably sized for a small network deployment, such as a private wireless network or a mobile network extension. 

The interest in the product at last year’s show prompted Vodafone to develop the product further and, according to Tenorio, it is now even smaller – the picture above shows it is now no bigger than a hand (without a casing) – supports all generations of mobile from 2G to 5G and multiple radio frequencies, has battery backup for power and also has a Wi-Fi link. 

The smaller size of the product and the addition of battery power has allowed Vodafone to trial it on a drone, effectively acting as a flying base station. 

It can also be configured from a cloud-based platform to make deployment easier for users, noted Tenorio.

The next step, he told TelecomTV, is to make the product available to application developers and for small-scale experimental deployments via the Lime Microsystems website starting in June, though that is only likely to be in small numbers initially before a broader full commercial launch at a later date. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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