Upstart network software provider Mavenir, announced today that it completed the first data and Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call across a containerized 4G small cell Open RAN solution in a Vodafone lab environment. The completed tests are the latest steps forward to delivering an open and vendor-interoperable 4G connectivity solution for small to medium-sized office locations.
Having first started work on a containerized indoor enterprise connectivity solution in January 2021, Vodafone has completed tests for an important stage of the technology roadmap. The plug-and-play small cell equipment can ensure comprehensive mobile coverage in every corner of the office. The solution will provide 4G coverage initially, making use of radio hardware from Sercomm and software from Mavenir (Open RAN). Containerization means that software can be seamlessly transferred between equipment, platforms, and applications. Wind River provided its Containers as a Service (CaaS) software, part of Wind River Studio.
This demonstration of a containerized solution is a major milestone in the evolution of connectivity equipment away from physical infrastructure to a digital cloud-based environment. Containerization provides greater flexibility for customers, but also significant benefits in terms of speed and cost of deployment.
Open RAN technology separates software from hardware, meaning more flexibility for mobile operators and customers. This approach aims to see many companies providing the components that make up a mobile network site, where previously one vendor would have delivered the whole solution. The technology is controversial, but accepted by many as a potential disruptor for the telecommunications industry. Vodafone claims to be one of the industry leaders in supporting the development of the Open RAN vendor ecosystem.
Whereas much of the focus for Open RAN has been directed towards network infrastructure deployment on mobile sites throughout the UK, the technology can be implemented in an enterprise environment to support local connectivity requirements. As an interoperable and standardized (there are no standards for Open RAN!) technology, Open RAN solutions can be integrated with little disruption in a “plug and play” manner, interoperable with other Open RAN compliant vendors.
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Open RAN is opening doors to simplified and intuitive connectivity solutions. For our wider network deployment strategy, Open RAN is enabling us to work with a wider pool of suppliers and to avoid vendor lock-in scenarios that might prevent us from taking advantage of the latest innovations. The same could be said for enterprise connectivity solutions.”
“From the moment Open RAN is deployed in an office environment, customers are no-longer locked into a single upgrade path. Working alongside Vodafone, customers can be more flexible in how connectivity solutions are adapted and upgraded as demands evolve in the future.”
Stefano Cantarelli, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Mavenir, said; “Cloud Native and Open Solutions are becoming the new reality of the mobile world, and these include Radio Access and its containerized implementation. Open vRAN is a very flexible architecture that can serve any type of segment and Mavenir is really pleased to work with Vodafone in the enterprise business and achieved another first together. It is an opportunity to show that automated and AI controlled systems will simplify life to business and industry.”
“Mavenir is delighted to partner with Vodafone in Open RAN and to work in the U.K. on their radio network transformation initiative, proving the extreme flexibility of Open vRAN,” Virtyt Koshi, SVP of Mavenir EMEA, said. “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.”
Moving forward, Vodafone and Mavenir will focus on finalizing the packaging and automation of the solution before beginning trials with selected customers.