Four big operators across Europe have backed the development of open Radio Access Network (openRAN) technology.
Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica have joined together to promote the technology, which lets smaller companies and startups supply equipment into mobile networks.
This is potentially a blow to the large end-to-end telecoms equipment suppliers, particularly Ericsson and Nokia in Europe, although Nokia has been engaging with openRAN developments.
“We aim to open R&D labs for new, smaller suppliers to develop their products. But to do this we need a supportive investment environment and political backing, and we urge European governments to join us in creating the Open RAN ecosystem,” said Johan Wibergh, group CTO at Vodafone, which plans to roll out the technology at 2500 sites, mainly in the UK.
The four have committed to provide a framework for the development of a non-fragmented global OpenRAN ecosystem for deployment across the European network footprint of each of their networks, and to start operation as soon as solutions become mature enough.
The agreement states that using OpenRAN technology will lead to a more competitive 5G environment enabling supplier diversification in Europe and more flexibility for industry to innovate and differentiate.
“Through our open labs and community activities, we facilitate smaller players to enter the market with their solutions. To build on this foundational work, we urge government support and funding for community activities that will strengthen the European ecosystem and leadership in 5G,” said Claudia Nemat, Chief Technology Officer of Deutsche Telekom in Germany which will deploy openRAN at 1000 sites.
“OpenRAN is the next major evolution of 5G RAN. Orange believes it is a strong opportunity for existing and emerging European actors to develop O-RAN based products and services, starting with indoor and rural areas. This evolution should be supported by a large European ecosystem (academics and research, software and hardware developers, integrators, public funding for R&D) as it is a