Telecom Italia to be first Open RAN network operator in Italy

Telecom Italia (TIM) is among the first operators in Europe and the only one in Italy to launch the Open RAN deployment program to innovate 4G and 5G radio access networks.

The initiative is covered by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last February with the main European operators to promote Open RAN technology with the aim of speeding up the implementation of new generation mobile networks, in particular 5G, Cloud and Edge Computing.

TIM said it signed up to the MoU to commit to the development of innovative mobile network systems that use open virtualized architecture to facilitate increasingly agile, flexible, secure and functional 5G services.

The first city in Italy to adopt this open network model is Faenza.  Through collaboration with JMA Wireless – a leader in mobile coverage and the development of Open RAN software – TIM will use a solution that decouples or disaggregates the components (hardware and software) of the radio access network.

The radio node on the 4G network has been built by combining JMA’s software baseband with the radio units provided by Microelectronics Technology (MTI). Going forward, this venture will also extend to 5G solutions.

The deployment of Open RAN solutions in an open environment, in line with the objectives of TIM’s 2021-2023 ‘Beyond Connectivity’ plan, will unite the potential of the cloud and Artificial Intelligence with the evolution of the mobile network. Moreover, it will enable operators to further strengthen security standards, improve network performances and optimize costs in order to provide ever more advanced digital services such as those linked to the new solutions for Industry 4.0, the smart city and autonomous driving.

TIM is a member of the European Open RAN alliance launched earlier this year by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone to work together on developing and implementing open RANs for mobile.  TIM said that the initiative will provide strong impetus to the introduction of the broadband mobile network’s new functionalities, in particular the 5G ones, promoting an increasingly widespread deployment and improving its management.

That consortium may be in competition with the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem, which includes the following companies: Dell Technologies Japan, Fujitsu, Intel, Mavenir, NEC, NTT Data, Nvidia, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, VMware, Wind River and Xilinx.

Of course there is also the O-RAN Alliance and the TIP Open RAN project group.  Yet no standards body (like ITU, ETSI, IEEE, etc) is involved and neither is 3GPP which is the main spec writing body for cellular networks.



Analysis: Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, DT commit to Open RAN

Another Open RAN Consortium: 5G Open RAN Ecosystem led by NTT Docomo


5 thoughts on “Telecom Italia to be first Open RAN network operator in Italy

  1. Companies ranging from XCOM-Labs to DeepSig to Airspan Networks cheered open RAN opportunities during a virtual event hosted by the Open RAN Policy Coalition.
    Open RAN “opens up this entire ecosystem,” argued Tim O’Shea, CTO of startup DeepSig. The company is using technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve radio signal processing in 5G networks. O’Shea said that DeepSig is developing very specialized software, software he believes the company will be able to plug into future 5G networks thanks to the modular structure of open RAN technology.

    Similarly, Pivotal Commware CEO Brian Deutsch said that open RAN has given his company a better chance to make an impact. He said the company was often sidelined at the 3GPP, the standards organization charged with developing 5G specifications, because “entrenched interests” were not interested in its technology. But he said Pivotal Commware was welcomed into the open RAN ecosystem, thus creating more opportunities for the startup. “That’s what O-RAN has meant to us,” he said.

    “Smaller participants can be a part of that,” agreed Eric Stonestrom, CEO of Airspan Networks. His company provides hardware and software for 5G networks, and is one of the key suppliers to Japan’s Rakuten, an early supporter of open RAN technologies. “It is a really exciting time for new startups.”

    Thus, the message of the Open RAN Policy Coalition – launched last year – was difficult to miss: Open RAN technology helps to foster innovation within the wireless industry. The technology promises to break networks up into their discrete components, thereby allowing network operators to mix and match gear from a variety of vendors. That’s a decided change from most radio access network (RAN) designs today, which are typically supplied by one single vendor.

  2. Iain Morris of Light Reading:

    The danger of open RAN is that it substitutes a series of dependencies for reliance on a couple of giant kit vendors. So far, there seem to be limited options for each disaggregated element – Dell, HPE and Supermicro on the server side, for instance, or Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless in software. The smallest companies lack the financial strength of Ericsson and Nokia. And in the absence of Arm-based alternatives, Intel rules over baseband. A vulnerability in any part of the chain could bring the whole system crashing down.

  3. I just couldn’t leave the IEEE Techblog web site without stating how much I enjoyed the article on Telecom Italia’s OpenRAN initiative. The incisive and objective information you provide for IEEE Techblog readers will surely encourage them to return to inspect new blog posts. Keep up the excellent content!

  4. It’s surprising that Telecom Italia will be the first Open RAN operator in Europe. Would’ve expected Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone or Orange.

  5. I love the valuable info put forth in your IEEE Techblog posts. Would’ve thought Vodafone, Orange or Deutsche Telekom would be the first Open RAN operators in Europe, coming before Telecom Italia’s deployment.

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