Vodafone's digital skills labs will be opened in Malaga, Spain, and Dresden, Germany, later this year. The Malaga lab will have 600 staff, with 200 in Dresden, developing cyber security, mobile private networks and OpenRAN technology.
Vodafone says it is working with several chipset suppliers, including an important research & development (R&D) collaboration with Intel, which is a key chip provider, at its OpenRAN Test and Integration lab in Newbury, UK. Vodafone also working with Qualcomm on systems that will be added to the project in the future.
Vodafone is developing its own OpenRAN radio units, despite working with Samsung. The Evenstar radio units are being developed with Facebook as part of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). The project will provide vendors with detailed specifications needed to develop compatible cost effective radio units to encourage new players to the market to boost the ecosystem and stimulate innovation.
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“The OpenRAN ecosystem is still in its infancy, and we want to spur its development.,” said Andrea Donà, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK.
“We want to avoid a Catch-22 situation, where operators wait to buy perfect products, but the OpenRAN vendors need investment to perfect their products. This is why we are announcing this investment in a new R&D lab, as well as committing to 2,500 OpenRAN sites in the UK countryside,” said Donà.
The initial Vodafone deployment is using servers from Dell with cloud software from Wind River Studio. This gives Vodafone the benefit of being able to mix and match and install new software releases and upgrades more easily.
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