Telefonica Deutschland to accelerate O-RAN deployment: Report

Telefonica Deutschland expects to accelerate the deployment of O-RAN technology, with the aim of installing the technology at 1,000 mobile sites across Germany, Reuters reported.

Mattias Sauder, director access and transport networks at Telefonica, said the company planned to advance the conversion of its radio network to open RAN, aiming to equip the sites within 18 months of a deployment due to begin in the second half of 2021.

The executive also said that Telefonica Deutschland will also expand a O-RAN pilot to include all frequency ranges.

Sauder also said that the carrier expects to carry out O-RAN tests with Finnish vendor Nokia during 2021.

Telefonica Deutschland Head of Technology Mallik Rao said: “O-RAN leads to more diversity in the mobile network and makes us more independent of individual manufacturers. That will soon give us much more freedom in the radio access network (…)  In addition, telecommunications companies around the world expect better prices and faster updates due to greater competition from new providers.”

Telefónica Deutschland has been testing O-RAN in three mobile sites in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria.

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 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.

Telefonica Deutschland had 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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