IBM and Airspan Networks launch 5G Open RAN testbeds in Europe

IBM and Airspan Networks are launching a 5G-enabled Open RAN testbed across the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich, Germany and IBM’s Global Industry Solution Center (GISC) in Nice, France. The facility will showcase long-distance control using 5G-enabled edge computing.  The goal of developing this testbed is to help clients across Europe innovate and develop multi-vendor solutions designed to address different customer use case requirements, based on open, interoperable standards, while optimizing performance. IBM Global Business Services and Airspan plan to work together to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and its ecosystem incorporating IBM’s leading global hybrid cloud and AI orchestration services. IBM Global Business Services, a leading systems integrator in the telco industry, is focused on processes, methodologies, and edge experience to deliver value and transformational projects with emerging technologies.

Marisa Viveros, VP of Strategy and Offerings, Telecom, Media and Entertainment Industry at IBM, said: “Open approaches and standards-based technologies are vital to help unleash the full potential of 5G and edge computing. That’s why, in collaboration with Airspan, we hope to work to advance emerging use cases that harness Open RAN and bring new value to telecom clients. The planned expansion of the Open RAN testbed will allow us to demonstrate these capabilities as we accelerate 5G and edge computing innovation.”

The main goal of the new testbed is to help the European telecoms industry accelerate the development of multi-vendor solutions to address specific customer needs.

“Through critical collaboration with leaders like IBM and testing in these labs, which could help accelerate the development of Open RAN and 5G solutions and the open architecture ecosystem, we believe Airspan can continue to be at the forefront of innovation and industry disruption through end-to-end Open RAN solutions,” commented Airspan Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Henrik Smith-Petersen.

Airspan will contribute its Open RAN AirVelocity 2700 indoor radio unit and virtualized Open RAN Centralized Unit (vCU) and Distributed Unit (vDU) OpenRANGE software as part of the collaboration.

IBM, for its part, will provide its Global Business Services technology integration services, Cloud Pak for Network Automation, and Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, to help customers to more efficiently manage and orchestrate their edge cloud implementations and applications.

This year, IBM announced the Open RAN Center of Excellence in Spain to accelerate the progress of Open RAN and standards-based technologies in Europe. In May 2021, Airspan announced the opening of a 5G Innovation Lab in the UK as a showcase and demonstration facility for partners, customers and government institutions, to focus on the development of Open RAN software, 5G sub 6 GHz and mmWave indoor and outdoor equipment, and private network use cases.

IBM Global Business Services and Airspan are working toward definitive agreements detailing joint plans to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and its ecosystem incorporating IBM’s leading global hybrid cloud and AI orchestration services. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice and represent goals and objectives only.

Earlier this year, Airspan also announced plans to open a 5G Innovation Lab at its offices in Slough, UK. The lab will feature a full end-to-end 5G Open RAN solution and will be used to advance the development of the technology in addition to acting as a showcase and demonstration facility for partners, customers, and government institutions.

The UK has increased its support for Open RAN development following its decision to ban Huawei from national networks, a previously major vendor.

“We’re investing £450 million to explore how 5G can boost the economy while also building confidence and competition in this revolutionary technology,” said Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure.

“Airspan’s new lab of telecoms innovators will develop cutting-edge 5G networks and help create jobs and a more secure and diverse UK telecoms supply chain.”



IBM and Airspan Networks target increased European adoption of 5G-enabled Open RAN