Home5G & BeyondOrange unveils findings from Europe’s first end-to-end 5G SA network

    Orange unveils findings from Europe’s first end-to-end 5G SA network


    The network, Pikeo, was the first of its kind in Europe at the time of its launch in June 2021

    Orange says it has reached a major milestone on its journey towards software and data based, fully-automated networks, with the results of its end-to-end cloud-native 5G SA experimental multi-cloud network.

    The experimental network has run over two locations in France for internal use by employees. The trial will soon be extended to a third site in Spain for internal use.

    Pikeo is multi-cloud and deployed:

    • as an on-premises Orange Telco Cloud infrastructure, operated by Orange, leveraging the SUSE/Rancher open source Kubernetes distribution. The implementation contributed to the first beta release of Sylva  – the Linux Foundation’s telco cloud solution.

    • on AWS or using a hybrid architecture with AWS – the core network is deployed in an AWS Region completely or with an optional local AWS Outposts to be consistent with Orange Innovation locations to control user traffic. The second option offers enterprise customers low latency or particular security measures and local requirements.

    Transformational activities

    Orange reckons its software and data-based telco vision will transform its activities, shaping how it builds, deploys and operates its future networks. Automation, disaggregation, cloud, data and AI will all play a key roles in delivering networks that operate much faster, for example:

    • deployment 300 times faster;

    • detection of anomalies 100 times faster; and

    • immediate security updates as required.

    The successful implementation and operation of this greenfield network for more than one year has provided Orange with invaluable experience and knowledge on the automation of cloud native 5G SA networks. The experiment also developed Orange’s know-how in integrating technologies from partners such as Dell Technologies, AWS, Casa Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as well as Amdocs, Arista, Mavenir and Xiaomi. This included clarifying “what this means in terms of skills and transformation”.

    Progressing Open RAN

    PIkeo also allowed Orange to demonstrate the growing maturity of Open RAN technologies, paving the way for field deployments “in the coming years”. The launch of the first field trial in a rural area in Romania last week apparently shows Orange’s confidence that Open RAN is ready for deployments on operational networks.

    Leveraging automation and AI, Orange’s experimental network demonstrated that:

    • the 5G network (core and RAN) can be automatically redeployed in less than one hour, rather than days or weeks on a legacy network, thanks to the DevSecOps pipeline.
    • automated anomaly detection for mobile networks is much faster – operational teams have access via a dashboard for automated, explainable anomaly detection using AI to reduce mean time to detect (MTTD) and help identify the root cause by correlating RAN, core and infrastructure metrics.
    • energy consumption can be optimised by automatically switching off the 5G private network of a company or facility in the evening and switching on in the morning, where relevant for companies.
    • dynamic end-to-end slice management of critical communication services was modelled and demonstrated on the 5G SA core network with isolation, using security and traffic prioritisation principles.
    • a zero-trust security model was successfully implemented with identity and access management leveraging Orange identity, automated vulnerability detection and integration with security incidents & event management (SIEM).

    Working with AWS

    In parallel, since mid-2022, Orange has worked with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to demonstrate the feasibility of running network functions over a public cloud. Orange views this as a key measure of maturity concerning how Orange and hyperscalers can work together to deliver solutions to enterprise customers.

    There are two fundamental elements involved:

    • a zero-trust security model using Orange identities and Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM);

    • optimising energy efficiency with an on-demand use of AWS resources cloud infrastructure.

    Orange has extended this trial in 2023 to further investigate the potential of automation through AI, as well as to evaluate vertical use cases.

    Laurent Leboucher, Orange Group CTO and SVP Orange Innovation Networks (pictured), says: “We are proud to showcase the benefits of a fully automated, cloud-native multi-cloud 5G SA network at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

    “The experience gained from the Pikeo project and the expertise of Orange Innovation teams will be leveraged in the new Mobile Private Network cloud experimental offer launched by Orange Business. As Orange seeks to fulfil its ambition to become the telecom reference for resilient, green, software and data-based networks, the results of this trial to date mark a major milestone in achieving this.”