Telefónica Germany and NEC partner to deliver 1st Open RAN with small cells in Germany

Telefónica Germany and NEC Corporation announced their successful collaboration in launching the first Open and virtual RAN architecture-based small cells in Germany. The service has initially launched in the city center of Munich to enhance the customer experience by providing increased capacity to the existing mobile network in this dense, urban area.  NEC serves as the prime system integrator in the four countries of Telefónica S.A. and NEC’s program to explore ways to apply Open RAN in various geographies (urban, sub-urban, rural) and use cases.  Telefónica Germany had previously said it planned to deploy pure 5G Open RAN mini-radio cells in Munich later this year.

In this German deployment, the flexibility of Open RAN is leveraged through the use of small cells to improve capacity in dense, urban areas. One of the key advantages of Open RAN over a traditional architecture is that it allows wider choice of vendor options. NEC integrated a multi-vendor architecture that includes Airspan Networks* unique Airspeed plug-and-play solution and Rakuten Symphony’s Open vRAN software for O2 / Telefónica Germany’s small cells to complement the existing multi-vendor based macro cells in its network.

The adoption of Open RAN small cells combined with macro cells will pave the way for 5G network densification. This will be especially beneficial in Germany, where multiple industries and enterprises are seeking ways to utilize cellular service functionalities in a particular area or in shared physical spaces.

Source:  Telecom Infra Project

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O2 / Telefónica Germany and NEC will continue their collaboration leveraging innovative Open RAN technologies, as well as automation, to validate and deploy advanced networks that efficiently deliver superior customer experiences in the 5G era, with collaboration from key partners.

“We are proud to have launched Germany’s first small cells built on innovative Open RAN technologies that help to complete the delivery of granular, high-quality connectivity in dense urban areas,” said Matthias Sauder, Director Mobile Access & Transport at O2 / Telefónica Germany. “NEC became our partner in this innovative project, with its underlying technological background and experiences of Open RAN technologies.”

“The potential of Open RAN technologies in the 5G era is infinite,” said Shigeru Okuya, Senior Vice President, NEC Corporation. “NEC is honored to be the strategic partner to O2 / Telefónica Germany, jointly leading the industry with practical and effective use cases that prove the value of Open RAN.”

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Germany seems to be a focal point for OpenRAN deployments.   For example, greenfield operator 1 & 1 is deploying a fully-virtualized, Open RAN mobile network built by Rakuten Symphony. That partnership began in the fourth quarter of 2021.

At Mobile World Congress this week, Vodafone announced that it plans to use OpenRAN in 30 percent of its masts in Europe – which includes Germany, of course – by 2030. Last November it emerged that it is working with Nokia and network software provider Mavenir to transform Plauen in Germany into a so-called ‘OpenRAN city’ that will be a live testbed for new OpenRAN-based products.

Deutsche Telekom is also a big fan of OpenRAN. Last June it claimed Europe’s first live OpenRAN deployment in Neubrandenburg, which has been dubbed ‘O-RAN Town’. It has partnered with a broad range of suppliers, including NEC, Fujitsu, Dell, Intel, Mavenir and SuperMicro.

Last December, semiconductor/SoC start-up Picocom made headlines in the Open RAN community by releasing the “industrt’s first” 5G NR small cell SoC for Open RAN.  This new product, dubbed the PC802, is described as PHY SoC for 5G NR and LTE small cell decentralized and integrated RAN architectures, including support for leading Open RAN specifications.  The PC802 allows for interfacing to radio units using either the O-RAN Open Fronthaul eCPRI interface or a JESD204B high-speed serial interface.  Optimized explicitly for decentralized small cells, the PC082 employs a FAPI protocol to allow communication and physical layer services to the MAC.

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OpenRAN has been a recurring topic at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with MavenirQualcomm, and Rakuten Symphony, etc. all making product pitches.  However, it remains to be seen if Open RAN will actually be able to deliver on its promise of mix and match network modules and  lower the cost of network deployment with the performance, security and reliability that network operators must provide to their customers.

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References:

https://www.nec.com/en/press/202203/global_20220302_04.html

Telefónica Germany rolls out OpenRAN small cells

Mavenir at MWC 2022: Nokia and Ericsson are not serious OpenRAN vendors

Picocom PC802 SoC: 1st 5G NR/LTE small cell SoC designed for Open RAN

 

https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/news/industry-first-5g-new-radio-small-cell-system-on-chip-spurs-open-radio-access-networks-forward/

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