Orange Espana has announced its plans for activation of 5G services on the 700 MHz band, describing the network as the largest 5G-700MHz network in Spain.
The 700 MHz band, already used by some operators for 4G, has the benefit of enabling good penetration inside buildings and good coverage with speeds comparable to those of mono-band 4G.
A few weeks after Vodafone said it would reach 109 localities by the end of the year, Orange responded that it will cover 1,100 towns and cities with the technology by December, including around 140 digital divide localities with less than 1,000 inhabitants.
The rollout will also include 140 towns and cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and 820 localities with between 1,000 and 50,000 inhabitants across 30 provinces. Benefits of the 700 MHz band frequencies include lower latencies plus significantly better coverage in indoor and larger outdoor areas, said the operator.
Orange activated its first 5G antenna for the 700 MHz band at Valencia’s Polytechnic University last September, having switched on its Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G network in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Malaga the previous year.
The launch comes after Orange paid EUR 350 million for a 2×10 MHz block in the government’s July 2021 auction of frequencies in the 700 MHz band. Orange has the largest amount of 5G-compatible spectrum in Spain thanks to its existing 110 MHz concession in the 3.5 GHz band, for which it paid EUR 173 million.
As of 30 September 2021, Orange Espana offered 5G coverage to over 50% of the population and had 620,000 5G subscriptions.
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.
UK based network operator Vodafone is examining one solution for connecting remote areas which use mobile masts that power themselves. Vodafone has been working with a company called Crossflow Energy, which has a very interesting clean technology called Transverse Axis Wind Turbines. The turbines look more like something you’d find on a paddle steamer, but they’re apparently more efficient and reliable than regular ones. Vodafone’s plan is to use them, in combination with solar and battery technologies to make self-powering masts.
Vodafone has developed self-powered cell towers and aims to deploy them across the UK. This is the latest part of its plan to expand its reach and offer new services while reducing energy consumption in its future networks, supporting its target of achieving net-zero for UK operations by 2027.
Vodafone regards the adoption of technologies such as the self-powered site as essential to meeting its energy-saving ambitions. As well as reducing Vodafone’s energy consumption, self-powered sites remove the need to connect to the electricity grid, overcoming what the operator says can be an insurmountable civil engineering challenge when building new sites in the most rural parts of the UK.
Other potential benefits of the Eco-Towers cited by Vodafone include: the use of locally generated renewable power to reduce the environmental impact of the site; increased renewable contribution by combining wind and solar with battery storage systems on site, which could remove reliance on diesel generators for back-up power; the quiet, bird-friendly turbine could make the Eco-Tower viable for the most sensitive of sites, including areas of outstanding natural beauty; and on-site power generation that is independent from the electricity grid may improve security of supply.
“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges,” said Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK. “Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry.
“Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net-zero for our UK operations by 2027.”
Martin Barnes, CEO at Crossflow Energy, added: “We are really excited to be working with Vodafone. It’s a fantastic opportunity to show how our self-powered Eco-Tower solves the problem of harnessing ‘small wind’ to offer not just that all-important carbon reduction, but also significant commercial benefits.
“In the case of Vodafone, it will help to accelerate the expansion of rural connectivity, transform energy consumption patterns and deliver significant economic and carbon savings. Our turbine technology has equally strong applications for so many other industries, but to have such a high-profile player as Vodafone deploying our Eco-Tower is a major endorsement for us and our technology.”
Vodafone and the ITU have launched a major new initiative to address the global digital divide. The program aims to give an additional 3.4 billion worldwide the ability to access and use the internet through a smartphone by 2030, Vodafone announced.
The new working group, co-chaired by Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read and ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, will identify policy, commercial and circular economy actions to increase smartphone access. Launch partners for the initiative include the GSMA, Vodacom Group, Safaricom, Smart Africa, the government of Ghana, the World Wide Web Foundation, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet.
In a statement announcing the initiative, Vodafone cited GSMA Connected Society research showing 82 per cent of the citizens of low- and middle-income countries are now covered by 4G mobile networks, but many lack a capable device.
Nick Read, CEO of Vodafone Group, said: “Vodafone is honored to be part of this monumental global initiative with the UN, to improve the lives of billions of people through smartphone access. As our societies become more digital, everyone should have the ability to find jobs, be able to get public services, financial services and critical information that are increasingly only available through the internet. This is such a complex challenge that no network operator, device manufacturer, financial services provider or national government can solve on their own – but working together we can break through the barriers.”
Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the ITU, said: “Achieving the Broadband Commission Global Targets requires a multi-stakeholder approach. I am pleased to co-chair this newly established Working Group, which will also help address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that we put smart devices in the hands of those who are left behind.”
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana’s Minister for Communications and Digitalization, stated 45 per cent of people in West Africa are covered by mobile broadband networks but do not use the internet.
Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, officer-in-charge of the office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, explained the Vodafone and ITU working group will play a key role in helping the body achieve its goal of universal connectivity by 2030 by helping ensure the global shift to digital technology “is beneficial and makes our societies more equal and not less.”
The Broadband Commission Working Group will produce a report and set of recommendations including:
original analysis and data on the smartphone access gap;
quantification of the social and economic impact of providing everyone with smartphone access by 2030, including assessment of moving users from 2G feature phones to 4G smartphones; and
analysis of initiatives or pilots designed to increase smartphone access. Vodafone Group has committed to launch two pilot projects on device affordability as part of this process.
“This partnership is key to expand access to the internet,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “I am confident that the outcome report will provide guidance to all our stakeholders as we prepare for the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2022 to build a world where no one is left off-line.”
To coincide with the creation of this new ITU working group, Vodafone, Safaricom and Vodacom have published the second Africa.Connected report in accelerating 4G roll-out in sub-Saharan Africa. The report, prepared by consultancy Caribou Digital, outlines four key steps to boosting digital access across African. This includes making 4G devices more accessible; investing in the demand for 4G services; providing targeted financing for underserved demographics; and re-farming 2G spectrum to enable more people to use 4G services.
2Africa, which will be the largest subsea cable project in the world, will deliver faster, more reliable internet service to each country where it lands. Communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and business will experience the economic and social benefits that come from this increased connectivity.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) has been selected to deploy the new branches, which will increase the number of 2Africa landings to 35 in 26 countries, further improving connectivity into and around Africa. As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available to service providers at carrier-neutral data centers or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.
Marine surveys completed for most of the cable and cable manufacturing is underway. Since launching the 2Africa cable in May 2020, the 2Africa consortium has made considerable progress in planning and preparing for the deployment of the cable, which is expected to ‘go live’ late 2023. Most of the subsea route survey activity is now complete. ASN has started manufacturing the cable and building repeater units in its factories in Calais and Greenwich to deploy the first segments in 2022.
Egypt terrestrial crossing already completed
One of 2Africa’s key segments, the Egypt terrestrial crossing that interconnects landing sites on the Red and the Mediterranean Seas via two completely diverse terrestrial routes, has been completed ahead of schedule. A third diverse marine path will complement this segment via the Red Sea.
About MTN GlobalConnect
GlobalConnect is a Pan-African digital wholesale and infrastructure services company, and an operating company in the MTN Group. GlobalConnect manages MTN’s international and national major wholesale activities, in addition to offering reliable wholesale and infrastructure solutions for fixed connectivity and wholesale mobility solutions that include international mobile services, Voice, SMS, signalling, roaming and interconnect. The MTN Group launched in 1994 is a leading emerging market operator with a clear vision to lead the delivery of a bold new digital world and is inspired by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. Embracing the Ambition 2025 strategy, MTN is anchored on building the largest and most valuable platform business, with a clear focus on Africa. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code “MTN”.
With its headquarter in Riyadh, stc group is the largest in the Middle East and North Africa based on market cap. stc’s revenue for 2020 amounted to 58,953million SAR (15,721 million US dollars) and the net profit amounted to 10,995 million SAR (2,932 million US dollars). stc was established in 1998 and currently has customers around the globe. It is ranking among the world’s top 50 digital companies and the first in the Middle East and North Africa according to Forbes. It focuses on providing services to enterprise and consumer customers through a fiber-optic network that spans 217,000 kilometers. stc group was among the first in MENA region to launch 5G networks and was considered one of the fastest globally in deploying 5G network as stc already deployed around 4,000 5G towers as end of 2020. stc group has 14 subsidiaries in the Kingdom, gulf and around the world, and its own 100% of stc Bahrain, 51.8% stake in stc Kuwait and 25% stake in Binariang GSM Holding in Malaysia which owns 62% of Maxis in Malaysia.
In Saudi Arabia (the group’s main operation site) stc operates the largest modern mobile network in the Middle East as it covers more than 99% of the country’s populated areas in addition to providing 4G mobile broadband to about 90% of the population across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to the above-mentioned, stc is a strong regional player in IoT, managed services, system integration, cloud computing, information security, big data Analytics fintech and artificial intelligence.
About Telecom Egypt
Telecom Egypt is the first total telecom operator in Egypt providing all telecom services to its customers including fixed and mobile voice and data services. Telecom Egypt has a long history serving Egyptian customers for over 160 years maintaining a leadership position in the Egyptian telecom market by offering its enterprise and consumer customers the most advanced technology, reliable infrastructure solutions and the widest network of submarine cables. Aside from its mobile operation “WE”, the company owns a 45% stake in Vodafone Egypt. Telecom Egypt’s shares and GDRs (Ticker: ETEL.CA; TEEG.LN) are traded on The Egyptian Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Please refer to Telecom Egypt’s full financial disclosure on ir.te.eg
For more information, email: [email protected]
Nokia and Vodafone have partnered to jointly develop a new machine learning (ML) system designed to detect and remediate network anomalies before they impact customers. Based on Nokia’s Bell Labs algorithm, the Anomaly Detection Service product runs on Google Cloud and is already being rolled out across Vodafone’s pan-European network.
In a joint statement, the partners said the ML system quickly detects and troubleshoots irregularities, such as mobile site congestion and interference, as well as unexpected latency, that may have an impact on customer service quality. Following an initial deployment in Italy on more than 60,000 LTE cells, Vodafone said it will be extending the service to all its European markets by early 2022, and there are plans to eventually apply it on the company’s 5G and core networks.
Vodafone added that it expects that around 80 percent of all its anomalous mobile network issues and capacity demands to be automatically detected and addressed using Anomaly Detection Service.
Vodafone’s deal with Nokia signed last year complements its recent six-year agreement with Google Cloud to jointly build integrated cloud-based capabilities backed by hubs of networking and software engineering expertise.
The platform, called ’Nucleus’, will house a new system ‘Dynamo’, which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo is expected to help Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of new features such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.
Capable of processing around 50 TB of data per day, Nucleus and Dynamo are considered “industry firsts”. Being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams, the project involves up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK and the US.
Vodafone said it has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across its markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone, said: “We are building an automated and programmable network that can respond quickly to our customers’ needs. As we extend 5G across Europe, it is important to match the speed and responsiveness of this new technology with a great service. With machine learning, we can ensure a consistently high-quality performance that is as smart as the technology behind it.”
Amol Phadke, Managing Director, Telecom Industry Solutions, Google Cloud, said:
“We are thrilled to partner with Nokia and Vodafone to deliver a data- and AI-driven solution that scales quickly and leverages automation to increase cost efficiency and ensures seamless customer experiences across Europe. As behaviors change and the data needed for analysis increases in velocity, volume, and complexity, automation and a cloud-based data platform are now key in making fast and informed decisions.”
Anil Rao, Research Director, Analysys Mason, said: “Vodafone’s anomaly detection use case, developed in partnership with Nokia and run on Google Cloud, automates root-cause analysis for efficient network planning, optimization, and operations. This type of partnership provides a new opportunity for operators to rethink data management and increase the focus on use cases and application development.”
Raghav Sahgal, President of Cloud and Network Services, Nokia, said: “This first commercial deployment of Anomaly Detection Service with Vodafone on Google Cloud provides a great boost to customer service. It not only addresses the critical need to quickly detect and remedy anomalies impacting network performance using machine learning-based algorithms, but it also highlights Nokia’s technology leadership and the deep technical expertise of Nokia Bell Labs.”
Vodafone said it will convert its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.
Vodafone and Google Cloud today announced a new, six-year strategic partnership to drive the use of reliable and secure data analytics, insights, and learnings to support the introduction of new digital products and services for Vodafone customers simultaneously worldwide.
In a significant expansion of their existing agreement, Vodafone and Google Cloud will jointly build a powerful new integrated data platform with the added capability of processing and moving huge volumes of data globally from multiple systems into the cloud.
The platform, called ‘Nucleus‘, will house a new system – ‘Dynamo‘ – which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo will allow Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of smart network features, such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.
Capable of processing around 50 terabytes of data per day, equivalent to 25,000 hours of HD film (and growing), both Nucleus and Dynamo, which are industry firsts, are being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams. Up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK, and the United States are collaborating on the project.
Vodafone has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across Vodafone’s markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations. The speed and ease with which Vodafone’s operating companies in multiple countries can access its data analytics, intelligence, and machine-learning capabilities will also be vastly improved.
By generating more detailed insight and data-driven analysis across the organization and with its partners, Vodafone customers around the world can have a better and more enriched experience. Some of the key benefits include:
- Enhancing Vodafone’s mobile, fixed, and TV content and connectivity services through the instantaneous availability of highly personalized rewards, content, and applications. For example, a consumer might receive a sudden broadband speed boost based on personalized individual needs.
- Increasing the number of smart network services in its Google Cloud footprint from eight markets to the entire Vodafone footprint. This allows Vodafone to precisely match network roll-out to consumer demand, increase capacity at critical times, and use machine learning to predict, detect, and fix issues before customers are aware of them.
- Empowering data scientists to collaborate on key environmental and health issues in 11 countries using automated machine learning tools. Vodafone is already assisting governments and aid organisations, upon their request, with secure, anonymised, and aggregated movement data to tackle COVID-19. This partnership will further improve Vodafone’s ability to provide deeper insights, in accordance with local laws and regulations, into the spread of disease through intelligent analytics across a wider geographical area.
- Providing a complete digital replica of many of Vodafone’s internal support functions using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. Called a digital twin, it enables analytic models on Google Cloud to improve response times to enquiries and predict future demand. The system will also support a digital twin of Vodafone’s vast digital infrastructure worldwide.
- In addition, Vodafone will re-platform its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer for Vodafone, said: “Vodafone is building a powerful foundation for a digital future. We have vast amounts of data which, when securely processed and made available across our footprint using the collective power of Vodafone and Google Cloud’s engineering expertise, will transform our services, to our customers and governments, and the societies where they live and serve.”
Thomas Kurian, CEO at Google Cloud, commented: “Telecommunications firms are increasingly differentiating their customer experiences through the use of data and analytics, and this has never been more important than during the current pandemic. We are thrilled to be selected as Vodafone’s global strategic cloud partner for analytics and SAP, and to co-innovate on new products that will accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.”
Revenues at Google’s Cloud business grew 46% this past quarter. However, Google continues to be a distant third to Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud business.
All data generated by Vodafone in the markets in which it operates is stored and processed in the required Google Cloud facilities as per local jurisdiction requirements and in accordance with local laws and regulations. Customer permissions and Vodafone’s own rigorous security and privacy by design processes also apply.
On the back of their collaborative work, Vodafone and Google Cloud will also explore opportunities to provide consultancy services, offered either jointly or independently, to other multi-national organizations and businesses.
The platform is being built using the latest hybrid cloud technologies from Google Cloud to facilitate the rapid standardization and movement of data in both Vodafone’s physical data centers and onto Google Cloud. Dynamo will direct all of Vodafone’s worldwide data, extracting, encrypting, and anonymizing the data from source to cloud and back again, enabling intelligent data analysis and generating efficiencies and insight.
Equinix and Vodafone have announced plans to build a new subsea cable hub in the northern Italian port of Genoa, to be called GN1.
Under the deal, Vodafone will land the 2Africa cable system at Genoa and use Equinix’s GN1 facility as a strategic interconnection point for the subsea cable system, with a connection on to Milan and the rest of Europe.
The partners said the EUR 1 billion 2Africa cable will be ready for service in 2023, a 37,000 km system circumnavigating the continent of Africa and directly connecting 16 countries in Africa to Europe and the Middle East, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key segments. To facilitate interconnection, GN1 will have a direct fiber connection to ML5, the soon-to-be opened Equinix flagship data center in Milan.
The newly-announced GN1 hub will be Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data center, offering customers secure colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to directly tap into Equinix’s digital ecosystems and colocation facilities in Milan. It will provide a capacity of 150 cabinet equivalents, and colocation space of around 560 square meters.
The combination of 2Africa’s landing in the new Genoa site and the direct connection to Milan means GN1 will offer a new, complementary and diverse alternative option for the Mediterranean region. As Genoa’s first carrier-neutral data center, GN1 will offer customers secure, resilient colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to directly leverage Equinix’s digital ecosystems and colocation facilities in Milan. It will provide a capacity of 150 cabinet equivalents, and colocation space of approximately 6,000 square feet (560 square meters).
2Africa is expected to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180 Tbps on key segments of the system. This will be vital to help build a digital society ready for services that require a large amount of data transfer, such as cloud computing or video.
The need for robust digital infrastructures can be seen across the world, and Africa is no exception. The continent is experiencing a critical period of digital transformation and development of its digital economy. In the next few years, digital technologies are expected to be a factor in improving African people’s quality of life and driving economic development in the region.
The GSMA predicts that the number of mobile internet users in Africa will continue to grow rapidly, primarily due to the popularization of smartphones and lack of fixed-line infrastructure, which has led to a boom of new services such as mobile payment, instant messaging, online streaming media and short video.
- The 2Africa project includes partners from China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC. The cable system will underpin digitization across the African continent by bringing greater capacity, quality and availability of internet connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.
- Responsibility for landing the 2Africa cable is split between the 2Africa parties depending on location. Vodafone is leading all European landings, along with selected other sites.
- As the home of the interconnected cloud®, Equinix is a natural destination for subsea cable systems and a gateway to new opportunities for system operators and their customers. Equinix hosts over 2,950 cloud and IT service providers on its global platform and can support subsea cable systems in 40 subsea-enabled metros around the world. When subsea cable systems are linked to cloud and content ecosystems on Platform Equinix®, users can access a variety of scalable cloud services almost anywhere they need to be. And because Equinix is carrier-neutral, subsea system operators can offer excess network capacity to customers who otherwise couldn’t as quickly or efficiently reach the markets being served by new subsea architectures.
- GN1 is being built in line with global environmental standards and will contribute to a portfolio of some of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world. Indeed, GN1 is expected to utilize 100% renewable energy. As the world’s digital infrastructure company, Equinix is working to protect, connect and power a more sustainable digital world by proactively addressing its ESG impacts. Equinix recently scored the highest rating on its first response to the DPP’s Committed to Sustainability survey, and joined European cloud infrastructure and data center providers and European trade associations to form the Climate Neutral Data Centre Operator Pact and Self-Regulatory Initiative.
- ML5 will be a new flagship International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Milan that offers state-of-the-art colocation, as well as a host of advanced interconnection services—including Equinix Fabric™ and Equinix Internet Exchange®—enabling virtual interconnections to some of the largest cloud providers in the world, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Google Cloud. When opened, ML5 will provide capacity of 500 cabinet equivalents and colocation space of approximately 15,000 square feet (1,400 square meters).
- The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Volume 4, a market study recently published by Equinix, forecasts that overall interconnection bandwidth—the measure of private connectivity for the transfer of data between organizations—will achieve a 45% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to 2023, globally. The expected growth is driven by digital transformation, and specifically by greater demands from enterprises extending their digital infrastructure from centralized locations to distributed edge locations.
- Nick Gliddon, Director, Vodafone Carrier Services:
“The 2Africa project is vitally important to improving connectivity between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and will also improve intra-European connectivity. By linking Spain and Portugal directly to Genoa and Milan, the system will avoid fiber bottlenecks that naturally occur between France and Spain, further strengthening Vodafone’s Gigabit networks.”
- Emmanuel Becker, Managing Director, Italy, Equinix:
“Italy is an important growth market for Equinix in EMEA, as it’s a strategic interconnection point for the region and beyond. We are working to give our customers improved access to the expanding global subsea cable network, so they have increased opportunities to expand internationally. Thanks also to the opening of our new data center in Milan, ML5, we are creating an interconnected metro area where customers can connect with strategic business partners in Italy and across the world.”
- Eugene Bergen Henegouwen, President, EMEA, Equinix:
“I am thrilled we are adding a new metro to our EMEA portfolio. Equinix’s Genoa site provides a great landing hub for subsea cable operators, whilst at the same time boosting the digital ecosystems at our recently announced Milan flagship, ML5. Equinix continues to focus on expanding its position as a global connectivity service provider. Our commitment is always to support the increasing demands we’re seeing from companies globally to accelerate their digital transformation. We’re helping businesses connect to everything they need to succeed, and will continue to do so.”
- Marco Bucci, Mayor of Genoa City:
“We are very excited to be the host city for the new subsea hub GN1, that will serve as a landing point for the 2Africa cable in the north of Italy. Genoa is known for the central role it has played in maritime trade for many centuries. Thanks to GN1, the city will become one of the main digital harbors of Europe, and play a key role in global data transfer.”
Vodafone has made a major commitment to use Open RAN at about 2,600 mobile base stations currently served by Huawei. That’s about 35% of the Chinese telecom equipment vendor’s installed base within Vodafone’s network, according to a spokesperson for the UK service provider after it was reported by the Financial Times (subscription required).
Approximately 2,600 sites in rural Wales and the south west of England will be switched to OpenRAN by the government-imposed deadline, a process that will commence in 2022. Vodafone wants to be viewed as a trailblazer for OpenRAN, which increasingly looks like the most likely source of telecoms vendor diversity in the wake of Huawei’s blacklisting by the U.S., UK and other countries.
“This commitment can get Open RAN ready for prime time,” Scott Petty, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, told the Financial Times. He added that although open RAN was still a nascent technology more suited to rural coverage than dense urban areas, including such a large chunk of its network would create an opportunity for it to push into the mainstream. Spanish telecom operator Telefónica is also exploring greater use of open RAN systems for future upgrades.
Vodafone’s plan represents a boost for the UK government, after a task force launched to help strip Huawei equipment out of the country’s 5G networks by 2027 identified open RAN as a potential growth opportunity for the UK. It could also support a government ambition to rebuild a foothold in the telecoms equipment market if growing Open RAN use is used to justify research and development subsidies and companies in the field based themselves in Britain.
“The UK could regain a foothold which it hasn’t had since the break-up of Marconi,” said Mr Petty, referring to the collapsed British telco. Recommended Huawei Technologies Huawei develops plan for chip plant to help beat US sanctions US companies Mavenir, Parallel Wireless and Altiostar have emerged as open RAN specialists in recent years, hoping to compete with larger companies, while hardware vendors like Samsung, NEC and Fujitsu are hoping to win market share as Huawei kit is removed. The move to ban Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, from 5G networks has meant networks have turned to Ericsson and Nokia to fill the void.
BT has signed deals with both the Ericsson and Nokia to replace Huawei base stations over time, putting the cost of complying with the government phase out at £500m. Ian Livingston, the former BT chief executive and trade minister heading up the government’s telecoms task force, told MPs last week that the push to foster Open RAN would grant telecoms companies a greater choice of vendors in the wake of the Huawei ban and avoid a bottleneck in the supply chain. Using Open RAN is a more costly exercise which has led to some calls within the industry for more financial support. Mr Petty said this need not be in the form of direct subsidies to use the equipment but could be directed at speeding up the development of chips and software to compete with established companies such as Huawei.
Vodafone’s pledge to use emerging open RAN tech for at least 2,600 masts and rooftops is the largest confirmed promise made by a European carrier © Alamy Stock Photo
Analysis & Opinion:
Vodafone is likely interested in Open RAN because that could boost supplier diversity in a market where there are currently few viable alternatives to the giant kit vendors. Trials in various geographies have already been carried out with Mavenir and Parallel Wireless, two U.S. developers of Open RAN software. Many telecom operators have complained that today’s systems force them to rely on one company for all the RAN technologies at a particular site. Thanks to other “virtualization” schemes, they would be able to run open RAN software on commoditized, general-purpose equipment.
Vodafone hasn’t named any of the vendors that will help it with this initiative. Telecoms.com was told that it’s committing a fair bit to OpenRAN R&D and that it definitely sees a significant role for the technology across its entire radio estate. It seems the UK government has actually been of some help in this matter too, with the creation of a taskforce charged with improving vendor diversity considered a step in the right direction.
Vodafone seems to be trying to set the agenda when it comes to emerging technology trends. For years it promoted NB-IoT, but it’s been silent on that LPWAN (for IoT) lately. OpenRAN suffers from the classic paradox of new technologies in that companies are reluctant to invest much in being first movers. Vodafone is putting its money where its mouth is regarding OpenRAN and it will be watched closely by other operators looking for reassurance before deploying this untested technology.
Vodafone is under pressure to comply with a government deadline for the removal of all Huawei’s 5G products by the end of 2027. This would be fairly straightforward with mainstream technologies from Ericsson and Nokia. Using open RAN as a substitute, even across only 35% of these sites in rural areas, may be tough.
The payoff for Open RAN is a much larger choice of telecom equipment and software vendors. That might even include UK firms, which have not featured in the network equipment sector since the days of Marconi, eventually bought by Ericsson in 2006. Lime Microsystems, based in the UK town of Guildford, is one player that might benefit. It is already supplying 4G equipment to a Vodafone site in Wales that was supposed to be used during this year’s Royal Welsh Show, an agricultural event canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s Rakuten Mobile and U.S. based Dish Network have already made significant open RAN commitments. Yet both of those companies are building their networks from scratch as greenfield wireless carriers. With today’s update, Vodafone is taking a bigger step into the unknown than any other brownfield telco in a developed market has taken, including Telefonica.
Telefónica has launched commercial 5G services throughout Spain, pledging to reach 75 percent of the Spanish population by the end of the year. In a statement, the company’s executive chairman Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete described the deployment as the most ambitious in the European Union. “The launch of 5G is a leap forward towards the hyperconnectivity that will change the future of Spain,” he said, noting that “it’s 5G for everyone, without any exceptions, in all the autonomous communities.” [That assumes low enough 5G tariffs, such that poorer working class Spaniards can afford the service]. Telefonica is accelerating “the digitalisation of small and medium companies, public administrations and citizens, ”Alvarez-Pallete added.
“Our network has always been a differential asset. People’s lives pass through it and it has demonstrated unparalleled strength when it’s been most needed”, Álvarez-Pallete continued. He pointed out that Spain already leads Europe’s digital infrastructures with the largest fiber optic network.
Editor’s Note: Telefonica’s 5G announcement follows Vodafone – Spain‘s commercial 5G network deployment in 21 cities in Spain. Initial 5G speeds of up to 1 Gbps for Vodafone subscribers in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander. Speeds will rise to 2 Gbps by the end of the year, some 10 times the current 4G maximum, with latency reduced to less than 5 milliseconds in ideal conditions.
Orange and Masmovil set to launch their 5G networks in Spain this month. All four of Spain’s MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) are expected to bid for frequencies in the 700 MHz band when the government holds its delayed spectrum auction in the first quarter of 2021.
Telefonica said 5G technology will give residential customers access to far faster speeds and lower latency, allowing sports fans to enjoy live 360-degree broadcasts and mobile gamers to access a “fibre-like” experience. Businesses will have access to services such as Multi-Access Edge Computing, 5G private networks, mass IoT and critical communications, as well as network virtualisation to facilitate more effective use of the network’s resources.
The Spain based network operator (also active in Latin America) clarified that it will initially launch NSA (non-standalone) 5G combined with DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) ahead of the “immediate deployment” of 5G SA (standalone) when the technology becomes fully available after standardisation. The company said it will make use of its current sites and infrastructure for the initial rollout, to be complemented by new base stations and small cells according to capacity and coverage needs.
It’s also having to rely on the 3.5 GHz band, together with mid-band (1800-2100 MHz) frequencies, for the initial coverage thanks to equipment that can operate with 4G and 5G at the same time. Telefonica also announced that it intends to shut down its 3G network in 2025, when 100 percent of its copper network will have been replaced by fiber optics.
“With 5G everything happens in a millisecond. A millisecond is what makes remote surgery, autonomous cars, the smart management of energy resources and cities and highly advanced entertainment possible. A millisecond is much more than a new response time. It’s Telefónica’s response to the new times. It’s Telefónica’s commitment to the country’s future”, concluded Álvarez-Pallete.
For residential customers, in addition to the benefits brought by 5G in terms of greater speed and lower latency, which will allow them, for example, to download a film in seconds, 5G will provide the possibility, among other features, of enjoying live sports broadcasts during which users will obtain a 360º experience and be able to view any angle of the match as if they were on the pitch itself. Gaming enthusiasts will obtain a mobility experience similar to that provided by fibre in the home, in other words, without any interruptions or latency. 5G will thus enable them to play on their mobile phones as if they were on their home computer screens or their video consoles.
5G business customers will have access to services like Multi-Access Edge Computing, which offers ultra-low latency services and greater computing capacity “on the network edge”, in addition to services such as 5G private networks, mass IoT and critical communications, as well as network virtualisation to facilitate more effective use of the network’s resources in keeping with the customers’ needs.
Telefónica operates with the latest radio (base station) generations that allow dual 4G and 5G usage, with the aim of bringing 5G to the largest number of people from the outset. This first phase will witness the launch of the 5G network, thanks to a technology that combines the deployment of NSA (non-standalone) 5G and DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) and the subsequent immediate deployment of the SA (standalone) 5G network when the technology becomes fully available after standardisation. This initial deployment will also make use of the current sites and infrastructure and, in the mid and long terms, it will be complemented by new base stations and small cells as the capacity and coverage require.
The 3.5 GHz band frequency (the only 5G band frequency already licensed to operators) and the mid-band (1800-2100 MHz) frequencies are being used for this purpose. This is the current location of 4G, capitalising on the possibility of using NR (New Radio) equipment that can operate with both technologies (4G and 5G) at the same time.
The new deployments will take place in tandem with a gradual shut-down of the old second and third-generation networks. 100% of the copper network will have been replaced by fibre by 2025, when the 3G network will also be shut down. This will permit more effective management of investments, as it won’t be necessary to increase them to address the new deployments.