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‘Made in Germany’ call with €300m for OpenRAN

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By Nick Flaherty


The aim of the projects backed by the BMVI is to advance the development and testing of the new software-supported network technology in Germany and to support the establishment of its own, independent manufacturing industry. 

The move to OpenRAN reduces dependencies on individual providers, enables more competition and allows new generations of mobile communications to be introduced faster and more cheaply via software updates. The BMVI also points to Open RAN as of particular importance also for the digitization of business and industry and as an important driver for setting up 5G campus networks from the high degree of customization of the network architecture.

The first funding projects are now starting, with a €17m OpenRAN Lab funded to 2024, two model projects in OpenRAN Cities with around €11.5m and a €2.5m research project to boost the OpenRAN ecosystem.

“We are starting an innovation incubator ‘Made in Germany’,” said Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer. “The OpenRAN Lab sponsored by us is an open platform that enables the networking of market players and accelerates technical development. All interested market participants have access and can work together across the board and learn from each other – regardless of whether they are network operators, network suppliers, or new players such as startups or SMEs. In the Open Lab environment, they can research, try out, validate and develop new, innovative products and business models. We are thus strengthening Germany as an industrial and technology location and making our communication technology fit for the future.”

The OpenRAN smart city projects in Neubrandenburg and Plauen will enable network operators to gain experience at an early stage in order to make the cellular network in Germany more efficient and to accelerate the changeover to new cellular standards.

“The funding measures are supplemented by a research project that aims to create an OpenRAN to develop a compatible component ecosystem. The knowledge gathered can also make an important contribution to the further development of OpenRAN throughout Europe,” said Scheuer.

The main project is the €17m OpenRAN lab, in a consortium led by Deutsche Telekom with Altran Germany / Capgemini Engineering , BISDN, EANTC, Fraunhofer-Heinrich Hertz Institute, highstreet technologies, Nokia, Telefónica and TU Berlin. 

The €10.5m O-RAN Town project from Deutsche Telekom aims to establish Neubrandenburg as a pilot city for OpenRAN. The aim is to research OpenRAN in real operation with German and European manufacturers to identify possible weak points in the networks as well as hardware and software components in real operation. This is intended to make sure OpenRAN technology and a corresponding ecosystem are promoted with German and European participation, says BMVI.

Vodafone Germany is leading the Protopolis project in Plauen using several LTE  and 5G base stations with prototype OpenRAN-based technology network. The aim is to research and test the integration of OpenRAN components into the existing cellular network under real conditions. The aim is to collect findings on how a professional, secure and efficient operation of OpenRAN can work.

Nokia is planning to set up a test centre for OpenRAN under real conditions at the company location in Ulm with backing of €2.5m. This test environment to be used to ensure the interoperability of products and solutions to explore multiple vendors and testing. In addition, applications are to be developed that improve the quality of the RAN network and make it more efficient, for example by optimizing energy consumption.  This will also look at the use of OpenRAN in the Internet of Things and 6G mobile radio.

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