Tue, Oct 08, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Vodafone testing OpenRAN in UK in challenge to ‘big 3’

Reuters, LONDON

Vodafone Group PLC is testing innovative open access radio technology (OpenRAN) in Britain — a first for Europe — in a move that could break the grip Huawei Technologies Co (華為), Ericsson AB and Nokia Oyj hold on the telecom equipment market.

OpenRAN, which has been developed by Vodafone and Intel Corp, standardizes the design of hardware and software in the infrastructure, masts and antennas that make up the radio access network that carries mobile calls and data.

DEPLOYMENT

Vodafone, the world’s No. 2 biggest mobile operator, has trialed the technology in laboratories in South Africa and deployed it in Turkey to deliver 2G and 4G services to customers in urban and rural areas.

It could enable customers to make calls and access data at lower cost.

Chief executive Nick Read said it was ready to fast track OpenRAN into Europe, as it sought to expand its list of vendors.

“OpenRAN improves the network economics, enabling us to reach more people in rural communities, and that supports our goal to build digital societies in which no one is left behind,” he said on Sunday.

The mobile network equipment sector is dominated by three companies: China’s Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

Operators generally deploy kit from at least two of them to reduce reliance on a single supplier.

US BLACKLIST

However, Huawei has been blacklisted by the US over concerns, denied by the company, that its equipment could be used for spying.

US mobile networks are therefore barred from using some Huawei equipment and Washington is urging European countries to follow suit.

Industry lobby group GSMA, which represents 750 mobile operators, has said a ban on Chinese suppliers would add US$62 billion to the costs of 5G networks in Europe, although other analyses have put the figure lower.

Vodafone said it was working with companies — including US-based Parallel Wireless and Mavenir and UK-based Lime Microsystems — on OpenRAN technology.

It was to launch OpenRAN in 120 rural areas in Britain yesterday, and plans to start trials in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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