open RAN

Telefónica tightens open RAN connections with NEC

Telefónica, one of the most enthusiastic backers of open RAN in Europe, turned once more to Japan's NEC to play a central role in testing the nascent tech.

Telefónica UK (O2 UK), in what it claimed was a successful open RAN trial, used NEC as system integrator to marshal its ecosystem partners.

Altiostar, in which Telefónica has a stake, was among them and provided virtualized RAN software. GigaTera Communications and Supermicro were in the open RAN hardware mix.

As systems integrator, NEC helped to define what was described as a "customized" open RAN architecture, "optimized and adapted to the requirements of the O2 [UK[ mobile network." It coordinated the overall design of the system

End-to-end testing and interoperability verification was carried out at NEC's recently established (and grandly named) Global Open RAN Center of Excellence in the UK.

The NEC-led open RAN trial builds on O2 UK's announcement in January last year that it was intending to launch open RAN technology to improve network service for those living in hard-to-reach rural areas, as well as "dense urban hubs."

At the time, O2 said it would open up its RAN to smaller, "non-traditional" RAN partners. Among those mentioned in dispatches were Dense Air, Mavenir, Real Wireless and Wavemobile.

Last December, O2 UK announced that it had piloted the integration and operation of open RAN infrastructure from Ireland-based Vilicom, a mobile communications system integrator.

Open RAN parallels in Germany

NEC is also coordinating the setup and operation of Telefónica Deutschland's first "live" operation in Germany, launched last month, at three mobile sites in the Bavarian town of Landsberg am Lech. O2 has made a commitment to use open RAN at about 1,000 of its mobile sites.

Altiostar, Dell, GigaTera, Intel, Red Hat, Supermicro and Xilinx are also among the open RAN suppliers.

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Adding to NEC's credentials on "openness," the supplier has a close relationship with Rakuten Mobile, providing as it does a virtualized 5G core for the Japanese open RAN operator.

Last August Telefónica and Rakuten Mobile announced a wide-ranging partnership to develop open RAN. The Spanish giant indicated it would lean on Rakuten Mobile's experience in its role as systems integrator (as well as its ecosystem partners), which helped get the tech up and running commercially in Japan.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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