A group of Europe’s largest operators outlined targets for advancing the open RAN ecosystem this year, highlighting progress made in improving the maturity, security and energy efficiency of the approach.

In a joint report, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Vodafone Group assessed the current status of open RAN technology and indicated segments where it could be improved.

Areas of focus the operators identified for the rest of 2023 include developments targeted at wider deployment in urban areas; strengthening cooperation with national authorities on security; and enhancing the energy efficiency of related equipment with a specific focus on the radio transmitters and cloud infrastructure.

On the issue of security, the operators noted they have made a request to include open RAN in the GSMA’s security assurance scheme along with the European Union’s 5G certification scheme defined by The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity.

The operators added the availability of energy-efficient hardware and sleep modes was helping open RAN match the energy efficiency of other mobile sites, with the group already working with suppliers to increase this further.

All of the operators involved have backed open RAN technology and signed an MoU covering efforts around the technology in 2021, alongside taking various individual steps towards adoption.

So-called full scale deployments are expected on the continent in 2025.

Imminent rollout
Deutsche Telekom group CTO Abdu Mudesir noted its initial commercial deployment would start soon, adding the company believes “open RAN will enrich the mobile ecosystem with new capabilities and innovation that will bring value to our customers and society”.

Orange CTIO Michael Trabbia added the “significant progress made recently by the open RAN industry has given us the assurance that open and cloud-native RAN is now geared up for first commercial deployments in brownfield networks within Europe from 2023 onwards”.

“In the long run, we also have a clear path set up with an efficient framework to ease the integration burden, opening the door for deployments at scale,” he added.

“Eventually, we expect open RAN to even outperform traditional RAN, allowing us to reap the benefits of fully automated and intelligent networks.”