Telefónica sees the smaller open RAN picture in Germany

O2 Germany activates 4G open RAN small cells in Munich; 5G SA minicells to follow later this year.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

January 18, 2022

3 Min Read
Telefónica sees the smaller open RAN picture in Germany

Telefónica Deutschland (O2 Germany), something of an open RAN cheerleader for Telefónica Group in Europe, has "activated" two small cells using the nascent tech.

Attached to a building facade on Klenzestraße in Munich's Gärtnerplatz district, they are aimed at complementing O2 Germany's 4G network with extra capacity. 5G open RAN minicells, supporting the standalone version, are expected to come online "later in the year."

Mallik Rao, O2 Germany's CTIO, said the intention was to use further open RAN rollout in Munich as a "model project" that could be replicated in other cities.

Figure 1: Selling it in: O2 Germany has activated 4G open RAN small cells in Munich; 5G SA minicells will follow later in 2022. (Source: Telefonica) Selling it in: O2 Germany has activated 4G open RAN small cells in Munich; 5G SA minicells will follow later in 2022.
(Source: Telefónica)

For customers in "very close proximity" to a 4G open RAN minicell, which is apparently "not much bigger than a shoebox," O2 Germany said they'll be able to enjoy download speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s.

As with 4G, the operator will use the upcoming deployment of 5G open RAN small cells for "targeted and selective" coverage. Providing extra bandwidth in busy city locations, such as squares, shopping streets and public transport stops, seems to be the priority.

O2 Germany added that it had two regional partnerships in place to ensure fiber backhaul: Stadtwerke München, which owns fiber-optic infrastructure; and M‑net, a local telco.

Supply chain diversity

O2 Germany did not identify suppliers for the Munich open RAN small cell installation. It did reference again, however, its "live" open RAN pilot in the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech, which swung into action in December 2020. The pilot now comprises four open RAN sites.

At the launch of the commercial trial, O2 Germany flagged a number of software and hardware suppliers.

These included US software company Altiostar, in which Telefónica held a stake at the time (although the company is now fully owned by Rakuten Group).

Other suppliers on O2 Germany's open RAN roster in Landsberg am Lech, at least when the pilot was first announced, were Dell, GigaTera, Intel, Red Hat, Supermicro, and Xilinx. Japan's NEC is also believed to be the systems integrator there.

Want to know more about Open RAN? Check out our dedicated Open RAN channel here on
Light Reading.

At Group level, NEC has featured more prominently in Telefónica's open RAN thinking since it announced a wide-ranging partnership with Rakuten Mobile.

Following on from the partnership, the Spanish giant indicated it would lean on Rakuten Mobile's open RAN experience in its role as systems integrator (as well as its ecosystem partners), which helped get the tech up and running commercially in Japan.

NEC is a key player in Rakuten Mobile's open RAN ecosystem, providing a virtualized 5G core.

O2 Germany, when it launched 5G in October 2020, committed to deploy some 1,000 open RAN sites within 12 and 18 months. Light Reading is not sure if this target still stands. There was no update here when it made its Munich small-cell announcement.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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