Vodafone and Nokia have agreed to jointly work on a fully compliant Open Radio Access Network (RAN) solution, marking a significant milestone for the mobile industry and a major boost to Europe’s competitiveness.
The combination of Nokia’s ReefShark advanced System on Chip (SoC) technology, developed in cooperation with Marvell, with standard Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) servers will enable the Open RAN system to reach functionality and performance parity with traditional mobile radio networks. Nokia’s ReefShark SoC boosts the Layer-1 processing capability, which is necessary to connect many users to the mobile base station and support high levels of mobile data traffic.
Nokia is the first large European-based RAN equipment supplier to fully support Open RAN. This partnership with Nokia will help Vodafone meet its public target of having 30% of its European networks running on Open RAN by 2030, as well as boost the EU’s global technology leadership in digital infrastructure.
Early next year Vodafone and Nokia aim to demonstrate an Open RAN baseband system, which processes customer mobile traffic, using in-line Layer-1 acceleration, in a major step towards wider Open RAN adoption. This solution will ultimately be deployed together with third party COTS server providers, in accordance with the industry’s vision for an open and secure ecosystem built around the specifications developed by industry body, the ORAN Alliance.
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone, said: “Open RAN is transforming networks from pure communications systems into platforms for innovation. It transforms mobile masts into automated software-driven, smart towers capable of supporting new applications for use in telemedicine, homes, transport, and factories. It is why we have spearheaded the technology, together with other like-minded companies, to live deployments.
“I’m delighted to see Nokia’s commitment to the club and I’m sure together we will maintain the flow of innovation in Europe.”
Open RAN separates the hardware and software at a mobile base station, allowing for a mix of equipment from different vendors, including the use of general-purpose hardware. Open RAN also promises to allow for far great levels of automation than have so far been possible.
Today’s announcement builds on Vodafone’s opening earlier this year of Europe’s first dedicated R&D centre for the advancement of Open RAN networks. The centre, housed in Vodafone’s new digital skills hub in Málaga, Spain is focussed on establishing a strong ecosystem for Open RAN solutions in Europe.