Telefónica Deutschland tests O-RAN tech in Bavaria

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German operator Telefónica Deutschland expects to carry out a test of O-RAN technology with the aim of deploying the new technology on a larger scale in its network next year, the telco said in a release.

In a pilot phase, Telefónica Deutschland is testing O-RAN in three mobile sites in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria.

“Our goal is to offer our customers the most technologically advanced and best network. Open RAN offers us maximum flexibility in deployment and also in the subsequent replacement of system-critical components. On the basis of such technological approaches, we can secure and further accelerate digitization in Germany,” said Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland.

The operator highlighted that the innovative technological approach of Open RAN will offer significantly greater flexibility in the selection of manufacturers in the future.

Currently, the radio access networks of German mobile network operators are characterized by a closed architecture that is dependent on a single manufacturer. As a rule, the technology of leading manufacturers cannot be combined. Telefónica Deutschland, like the other German network operators, has therefore been pursuing a strategy for years that relies mainly on two suppliers. Their technology is used to build the radio access network in different areas of the country in each case.

Open RAN breaks up this vendor dependency in the radio access network. Providers such as Telefónica will therefore be able to use hardware and software freely available on the market as the basis for building their base stations, the company said.

All of Open RAN’s components will be modular and flexible. The best possible components can therefore be combined with each other, which can lead to cost savings of up to 30% in the radio access network, the telco added.

“We were the first network operator to take Open RAN out of the lab and into the live mobile network. The use of Open RAN is a central factor in the virtualization of our network, which we launched with the new 5G core network,” said Mallik Rao, CTO at Telefónica Deutschland.

“Open RAN will significantly expand the range of potential technology partners for our network. We will be able to flexibly target the providers with the best products for us. This will provide more diversity,” Rao said.

Telefonica Deutschland has chosen Japanese tech firm NEC as a partner for the pilot project in its mobile network in the Landsberg area. NEC will coordinate the setup and operation of the Open RAN at the Landsberg cellular sites, as well as combine the hardware and software from other participating companies such as Dell, Intel, Altiostar, Xilinx, Red Hat, GigaTera and Supermicro into a complete system.

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