Home5G & BeyondVodafone deploys UK Open RAN model in Romania 

    Vodafone deploys UK Open RAN model in Romania 


    The operator likes the Samsung, Dell and Wind River combination so much it is taking them on tour

    Vodafone is installing new Open RAN sites in 20 cities across Romania, following successful tests it started with Samsung and other partners last year in the country. The operator is working with several partners on the deployment, including Samsung for 2G, 4G and 5G radio and baseband units, Dell PowerEdge servers designed for cloud-based Open RAN workloads and Containers as a Service (CaaS) software from Wind River – all partners in its commercial rollout of Open RAN to 2,500 sites in the UK, which started in August 2023. 

    Despite the Open RAN fanfare, Vodafone’s Romanian deployment is relatively modest given that two weeks ago it signed a six-year deal with Ericsson to replace mostly Huawei kit with the Swedish vendor’s 5G RAN portfolio including Massive MIMO, Antenna System and latest generation of radios and basebands – and no mention of Open RAN kit. 

    Vodafone said the commercial rollout in Romania builds on other European Open RAN trials and its UK commercial rollout, which started in August 2023. However, critics may claim that current Open RAN deployments by any operator are not strictly multi-vendor across all interfaces. Samsung for example has made great strides – and success – in virtualised RAN deployments but vRAN is not Open RAN. On the other hand, why should operators replace working 5G technology with Open RAN tech without a business case screaming revenue uplift? 

    Vodafone said its Open RAN initiatives prove that its performance is either on a par or exceeds that of the legacy equipment in most measurements, including 4G and 5G call success rate, as well as download and upload speeds across multiple spectrum frequencies. Whether that sounds like the Open RAN business case arriving, it is harder to tell. Progress continues though. Last week, Vodafone, Samsung and AMD successfully demonstrated an end-to-end call with the latest AMD processors enabling Open RAN. And last October, Orange and Vodafone completed a 4G call on a group of shared sites – integrated into their commercial networks – running Open RAN in a rural area near Bucharest.  

    Nevertheless, Vodafone’s chief network officer said the momentum behind Open RAN technologies is building, in Vodafone and amongst its partners. “As new technologies like generative AI take root and are embedded within businesses, factories, and every day online interactions, they will require intelligence-based networks powerful enough to support them. Open RAN is designed to do just that.” 

    Rollout details 

    Samsung will provide its fully virtualized RAN software supporting multiple mobile technologies, automation solutions and Open RAN-compliant triple-band radio antennas as well as 5G Massive MIMO radios. Samsung’s triple-band radio combines 700MHz, 800MHZ and 900MHz frequency bands into one compact radio supporting 2G (to support low-powered Internet of Things services), 4G and 5G coverage, enabling increased network capacity and greater flexibility using fewer physical masts. Samsung’s vRAN supports multi-RAT, automation solutions and Open RAN-compliant triple-band radios as well as 5G Massive MIMO radios.  

    “As our collaboration with Vodafone continues to make strides across Europe, this rollout in Romania will mark a significant milestone that underscores our dedication to network innovation,” said Samsung Electronics president and head of networks business Woojune Kim. “Our pioneering network solutions will propel Vodafone Romania’s transformation journey, providing a flexible and powerful way to realize the full potential of Open RAN. We look forward to combining our diverse experiences together to reshape the future of connectivity.” 

    This commercial rollout follows Samsung’s pilot project with Vodafone last year in Romania. The companies completed the first 4G calls over shared commercial Open RAN in Romania’s rural areas. Samsung is collaborating with Vodafone to support its Open RAN initiative in both rural and urban areas of Romania, helping the operator transition to an open network architecture. Vodafone plans to equip 30% of all its European sites with Open RAN by 2030.