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Vodafone, Samsung kick off UK Open RAN rollout

Samsung Electronics is supporting Vodafone’s large-scale deployment of Open RAN across 2,500 mobile sites in Wales and the South-West of England. Starting in Devon, Vodafone kicked off its Open RAN deployment using Samsung’s virtualized RAN (vRAN) software and Open RAN radio solutions.

For this installation, Samsung is providing its vRAN software supporting Multi-RAT (multiple radio access technology) — across 4G and 5G — and its O-RAN compliant radios in the low- and mid-bands, including its Massive MIMO radios. Samsung has fully integrated its 64T64R Massive MIMO radios into Open RAN, demonstrating its capability to handle integration, which is more complex for 64T64R Massive MIMO radios, in comparison to single-band radios.

This deployment — the largest Open RAN rollout in the U.K. — is the latest milestone in the expanded collaboration between Vodafone, Samsung and several other partners, since the U.K.’s first 5G Open RAN site in Bath in January of 2022. Subsequently Samsung supported the installation of Open RAN in Vodafone’s Exmouth and Torquay network, in December of 2022. This was another first for the Open RAN ecosystem.

Using Samsung’s vRAN solutions, Vodafone, Samsung and other partners have proven the capability of Open RAN in Vodafone UK’s commercial network, exceeding the performance of legacy hardware-based RAN in urban locations. Test results exceeded the targeted KPIs, including 4G and 5G downlink and uplink throughput.

“Vodafone has been at the forefront of Open RAN innovation and we are excited to kick-off the mass installation of Open RAN, working together with Samsung Networks and the rest of our ecosystem,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK. “After rounds of testing and validation, we are well prepared to embark on this new phase in our Open RAN expansion, and look forward to opening up a new world of possibilities that will transform customer experiences.”

“Now we are witnessing how innovative technologies like Open RAN and vRAN can further bolster 5G capabilities, creating new paths and possibilities for network evolution,” said Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Following this historic milestone in Europe, we will continue working together with Vodafone to take their Open RAN networks to new heights.”

“The release of vRAN 3.0 comes at a good time, as Samsung is extending its vRAN solutions to this major ‘brownfield’ opportunity,” said Joe Madden, Founder & Chief Analyst, Mobile Experts. “This milestone is important because it represents Open RAN replacing legacy solutions at scale in a high-capacity environment, and it sets up Vodafone UK with the flexibility to monetize their RAN better in the future.”

Samsung also supported the automation of vRAN deployments process, easing the management of cell sites from a unified platform.

Samsung has pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions, including chipsets, radios and cores. Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio, from vRAN 3.0, Open RAN, Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company currently provides network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

CT Bureau

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