Vodafone Group and Orange extended a shared open RAN network pilot in Romania to cover a greater number of rural areas and include 2G virtualised RAN (vRAN) technology, an achievement the two positioned as marking another milestone in cloud migration.

The partners branded 2G vRAN as “a major step forward” and an opportunity for operators to circumvent obligations to maintain the legacy network on specialised hardware, while still deploying 4G and 5G “as an overlay”.

Vodafone and Orange used Samsung’s vRAN software along with the vendor’s open RAN compliant radios, along with Wind River’s cloud platform and Dell Technologies hardware.

The operators noted in their comparisons open RAN and traditional architecture demonstrated similar performance, adding the former technology allowed for increased automation and remote upgrades of mobile masts.

The two noted using their model “operators are provided with more freedom and autonomy in managing their own virtualised RAN software on a common cloud infrastructure, while network operating costs are shared”.

The latest steps build on a collaboration between Orange and Vodafone unveiled in early 2023, which led to the pair successfully trialling 4G calls over a shared open RAN network in October.

Vodafone also recently completed a three-month open RAN pilot with Nokia in Italy.