O2: Telefónica tests Open RAN in Europe

Telefónica is testing Open RAN in its O2 mobile network in the UK. Like the network operator on January 16, 2020 announced, is being worked with the equipment suppliers Mavenir, Dense Air and Wavemobile.

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With Mavenir, O2 aims to improve coverage and capacity in densely populated areas in London, mainly stadiums and shopping centers. The partnership with Dense Air includes the use of O-RAN in 4G and 5G networks in a village. Wavemobile will establish an active O-RAN network at several locations in the UK, and in future also in locations that are difficult to access. Brendan O'Reilly, chief technology officer of O2, said that O-RAN "really exciting opportunities opened up". This enables the radio access network to be opened up to smaller providers.

Open RAN means virtualized network elements, white box hardware, open source software and standardized interfaces. Proprietary chips are to be largely avoided. In February 2018, the network operators AT&T (USA), China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, the Japanese NTT Docomo and Orange from France announced the establishment of the ORAN Alliance.

It has grown to include operators such as China Unicom and manufacturers such as Intel, Radisys, Lenovo and Samsung Electronics.

An expert from a leading supplier believes that Open RAN is not yet usable today. He does not expect this until the mid-2020s or later. The energy efficiency of Open RAN in particular is causing problems. The use is rather possible in small cells, but not with Massive MIMO, where special chips are used.

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