Vodafone and Mavenir create indoor OpenRAN solution for business customers
Vodafone and Mavenir have developed small cell OpenRAN technology for indoor network coverage. The solution is designed for businesses with medium to large office spaces and uses OpenRAN to support interoperability and (supposedly) to prevent vendor lock-in. The new indoor OpenRAN solution provides 4G LTE coverage “initially.”
The design of the indoor small cell solution is based on the OpenRAN philosophy of interoperability (yet to be proven). In this case, the software will be provided by Mavenir (Open vRAN), while Sercomm will provide the radio hardware. The design and flexibility of the small cell solution means it will be interoperable with other OpenRAN compliant vendors.
A powerful, indoor small cell solution can offer several advantages to business customers, according to Vodafone. The simple plug and play installation means coverage can be instantly deployed, enabling seamless connectivity for every device in the office. The interoperability (???) of the OpenRAN ecosystem paves the way for long-term flexibility to work with a wider array of vendors for elements such as radio units, baseband hardware, and gateways.
Editor’s Note: OpenRAN deployments have yet to demonstrate neutral vendor interoperability, technological advantages over purpose built network equipment, and/or cost reductions (OPEX and/or CAPEX). Light Reading has said OpenRAN substitutes one form of vendor lock-in for another (partnerships amongst OpenRAN vendors).
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK, said:
“So far, OpenRAN deployment has focused on outdoor connectivity, but there is significant potential for this technology in the office environment.
A simple plug-and-play product, which includes all the attractive benefits of the OpenRAN philosophy, is one that can build on our strength of providing indoor coverage through both our macro network and our bespoke solutions.”
The convenience offered by plug-and-play enables the small cell equipment to be placed virtually anywhere to ensure coverage across the entire office.
Mavenir’s Open vRAN software is being used for the solution while Sercomm is providing the radio hardware.
Virtyt Koshi, SVP at Mavenir EMEA, commented:
“Mavenir is delighted to partner with Vodafone in Open RAN and to work in the UK on their radio network transformation initiative, proving the extreme flexibility of Open vRAN.
We are particularly proud in working in the field within the Vodafone commercial network and in the Newbury Open RAN Test and Verification lab, supporting the Vodafone effort to boost the ecosystem.”
The development of an indoor small cell solution is the next stage of a long-standing relationship between Vodafone and Mavenir. In August 2020, Vodafone deployed the first OpenRAN site to carry live traffic in the UK. The sites, including the Royal Welsh Showground in Powys, feature Mavenir software and Sunwave radio units. Vodafone and Mavenir will continue this partnership to deploy more OpenRAN sites in the future.
Vodafone creating indoor OpenRAN solution for business customers
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Many talk about OpenRAN but few dare to ask the critical questions which concern mobile operators
Many OpenRAN pronouncements sound too good to be true, for example a technology that can reduce mobile operators infrastructure CAPEX and OPEX by 30-40 percent. Investors and other decision makers want objective information about the latest mobile industry hype. Strand Consult’s report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN” examines the claims made by OpenRAN proponents. Strand Consult, having witnessed the launch of WiMax, OneAPI, and the iPhone among other hyped technologies promised to bring windfall revenues to mobile operators, provides critical questions to evaluate OpenRAN in its latest report.
Strand Consult is an independent research company with 25 years industry experience in the mobile telecom industry with over 170 mobile operators globally as clients. Strand Consult is known for its expert knowledge and many reports which help mobile operators and their shareholders navigate an increasing complex world.
We at Strand Consult has nothing against OpenRAN. However we want to create the transparency at the O-RAN Alliance, and some of its members have pushed back. Indeed Strand Consult’s transparency concerns are shared by policymakers in the EU and US, notably the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
Strand Consult has studied OpenRAN and produced many reports and research notes on the topic. Strand Consult first identified that there are at least 44 Chinese firms participating in the OpenRan Alliance, debunking the assertion that OpenRAN would be free of Chinese influence. Strand Consult has also posited that Huawei is influencing OpenRAN indirectly through its largest customer China Mobile, which is a founding member of the O-RAN Alliance. However inspiring companies like Mavenir, Parallell Wireless, and Altiostar may be to storytellers, they are bit players. Most of the contributions to OpenRAN specifications come from old established technology providers and China Mobile.
Strand Consult’s goal is to create objectivity and transparency about the actors promoting OpenRAN so that mobile operators, investors and others stakeholders can make informed decisions. Strand Consult finds it telling that OpenRAN proponents have not wanted to answer its critical questions addressing financial, economic, technical, and practical points about the technology. This is particularly evident at many OpenRAN webinars over the last 18 months when Strand Consult posts its questions publicly in the chat and the moderator ignores the questions, or Strand Consult’s emailed questions to the event organizer are ignored.
In an effort to lift the level of policy discussion, Strand Consult offers a comprehensive review of the official public documents promoting deployment of 5G Open Radio Access Networks (OpenRAN). These include the set of industrial, think tank, advocacy, and academic papers and reports as well as official proceedings by regulators and authorities in the United States and European Union. Official inquiries on OpenRAN have been undertaken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the DG Connect at European Union.
These inquiries have a variety of goals. One objective of these inquiries is to explore resilience in the network infrastructure market. Another is to promote alternative suppliers to Chinese providers Huawei and ZTE. Yet another is to explore and develop industrial policy and promote domestic companies.
Strand Consult believes that such processes and subsequent reports are important. Telecommunications regulatory authorities are tasked with providing policymakers with objective information for decision making as well as cost benefit and other analyses.
In the report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN”, Strand Consult investigates the quality of the literature describing OpenRAN. It categorizes the 25 myths into 6 categories: security, competition, innovation, engineering, economics, and public policy. Among the OpenRAN reports, articles, and investigations, there is little information which can be classified as empirical, scientific, or peer-reviewed. Outside of a few exceptions, most materials are marketing/advocacy promoted by OpenRAN proponents or news/press releases/opinion pieces. The key shortcomings of the OpenRAN discussion include
Lack of objectivity and/or empirical support
Preconceived notions, assumptions, and assertions about the economics of infrastructure, competition, and innovation
Little to no discussion of the infrastructure value chain beyond the large infrastructure equipment providers
Ignorance or failure to disclose that OpenRAN is not a technical standard. The O-RAN Alliance develops technical specifications for 4G and 5G RAN internal functions and interface, not for 2G and 3G. The O-RAN Alliance is not a standards development organization (SDOs) like the 3GPP.
Ignorance or failure to disclose that OpenRAN only supports 4G and 5G and therefore it is not a 1:1 commercial alternative for 5G networks. Moreover OpenRAN does not support 2G and 3G, the prevailing network generation in many developing countries, and yet OpenRAN is reported as a solution for developing countries.
Ignorance or failure to disclose that 182 commercial 5G networks have been launched globally. These are classic RAN installations that support 2, 3, 4 and 5G in one base station. There is only 1 commercial OpenRAN installation, Rakuten in Japan.
Ignorance or failure to disclose how small expectations are for the OpenRAN install base by 2025 and 2030 compared to the entire market. This is likely just 1 percent in 2025 and under 3 percent in 2030.
Ignorance or failure to disclose the role of Chinese vendors in OpenRAN ecosystem and their leading role in OpenRAN governance and specification setting
The report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN” takes a critical view of the claims made about OpenRAN, including the claim that OpenRAN will stimulate the 5G service market. Strand Consult doesn’t believe OpenRAN will stimulate the 5G service market. We understand which services there will be in the core network and which in the cloud. They key problem for OpenRAN community is that they can’t explain which services are based on RAN that require OpenRAN on a cell site to be implemented. And the OpenRAN community cannot tell us who will develop these OpenRAN-based services, who will sell them, what business models underlie these services, whether they will address corporate or consumer market. And they cannot tell us about whether these services only be available on the few mobile sites where the operators have implemented OpenRAN, e.g. outside the big cites.
The report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN” will provide the objectivity and transparency needed by decision makers. This is the sort of information and analysis which is not available in most mainstream outlets. At the end of the day, mobile operators’ job is to deliver a great network experience to their customers. OpenRAN proponents have not succeeded to communicate, let alone demonstrate, specifically or empirically the difference they will make to mobile operators’ bottom line in a world where 182 commercial 5G networks on classic RAN have been launched.
For more than 25 years, Strand Consult has debunked the many myths of mobile industry hype. With its new and free report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN”, Strand Consult provides valuable information to mobile operators, investors and other mobile industry stakeholders.
Contact Strand Consult today to get your free copy of the report “Debunking 25 Myths of OpenRAN”
IEEE ComSoc and SCU will host a virtual panel session on Private 4G/5G and OpenRAN. We have confirmed participants from Nokia, Mavenir, Intel, and EdgeQ + analyst firm StrandConsult. If you’re interested in attending this FREE event (to be scheduled in late Feb) please email me: [email protected] & I will put you on the email invitation list.
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