Pilot projects in four key global markets are the pre-cursor to mass deployment of Open RAN
After successful trials in Telefónica Germany and the UK, NEC will serve as the prime system integrator to implement and conduct trials of multi-vendor-based Open RAN solutions with the Telefonica group’s operating companies in its key global markets. The joint project has a target of ‘at least 800 sites’ for commercial use starting in 2022.
The Open RAN systems use NEC’s products in harmony with software and hardware from trusted partners. NEC’s open 5G massive MIMO (mMIMO) radio units (RU) with advanced beamforming will be used ‘significantly increase/optimise network capacity’ it says.
New technology and automation lab in Madrid
Telefónica and NEC will jointly validate and install Open RAN technologies and examine use cases at the new Telefónica Technology and Automation Lab in Madrid. The use cases include Radio Intelligent Controllers (RIC) that use artificial intelligence to optimise RAN, service lifecycle automation using a service management and orchestration (SMO) app and automatic testing and deployment. All will run within Telefónica’s Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) framework. All systems will be designed to make the optimum use of power.
NEC’s Global Open RAN Center of Excellence (CoE) in the UK will lead the integration and validation of the multi-vendor ecosystem and any joint developments.
Telefónica signed the Open RAN Memorandum of Understanding in January 2021, committing to the installation of Open RAN technology in its 5G networks. The company has ambitions of 50 per cent open radio network growth by 2025.
"Our long engagement with NEC has shown us their practical competence and constant customer-first approach,” said Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Telefónica, “we are confident they are the right partners for this highly strategic initiative."