Vodafone, Samsung switch on first UK 5G Open RAN site

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Samsung Electronics and Vodafone UK have switched on the UK’s first 5G Open RAN site carrying live customer traffic.

The site in Bath is the start of Vodafone’s scaled Open RAN network architecture in Europe, with more than 2,500 additional sites to follow. The companies successfully completed a 5G live video call using Samsung’s 5G virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN), which was the UK’s first call on a commercial 5G Open RAN, between Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK Chief Network Officer, and Julia Lopez, Minister of State for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, UK Government.

Vodafone UK announced last June that it was working with Samsung to support a wide-scale 5G commercial deployment based on an Open RAN architecture powered by vRAN in Europe.

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 “Open RAN can radically evolve the telecoms industry, and we are excited to champion the technology in the UK,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK. “This is an ecosystem which is only a few years old but the progress we have made so far is quite remarkable. Not only have we begun the first scaled deployment in the UK, but we have also installed the first 5G Open RAN site. Open RAN is now a real-world technology and it is truly exciting to see this technology flourish.”

 “Samsung is proud to collaborate with Vodafone UK to switch on the UK’s first 5G Open RAN site,” said Thomas Riedel, Head of Samsung Networks Europe at Samsung Electronics. “This will help deliver the benefits of our carrier-grade 5G vRAN solutions to millions of Vodafone UK customers. Through our accumulated commercial 5G vRAN experience with leading operators across major markets globally, we look forward to pushing the boundaries of technological innovation and supporting the 5G journey across Europe.”

 In the coming months, Vodafone and Samsung will be testing Samsung vRAN’s telco-grade performance metrics and features, such as security, inter-Radio Access Technology (inter-RAT) mobility and inter-frequency handover, as well as ensuring compliance with Open RAN specifications. Samsung’s fully virtualized, software-based RAN runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers, offering features and performance that are equivalent to traditional hardware-based equipment. Using a cloud-native and container-based architecture, the company’s vRAN enables more flexible deployments and network management efficiencies for mobile operators, while helping them meet the demands of deploying new and existing services.

 The companies will also test other advanced network technologies that use both LTE and 5G technologies to help enhance mobile user experiences. This includes Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which assigns time-frequency resources based on traffic demands to accommodate users of both LTE and 5G in the same frequency band, and E-UTRAN New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC), which boosts 5G speeds, reliability and coverage by combining the resources of 4G and 5G networks. Testing will occur in the first half of 2022.;

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