Orange struck agreements with vendors NEC and Mavenir to boost its standalone end-to-end 5G cloud native network with massive MIMO technology, in what the trio claimed was a major stepping-stone towards open RAN deployments.

In a statement, Orange explained it was using Mavenir’s cloud-native Open vRAN software on its cloud infrastructure, along with NEC’s massive MIMO antenna unit to deliver high capacity and enhanced coverage.

The companies stated interoperability between radios and virtualised distributed units over the O-RAN Alliance Open Fronthaul Interface was the major milestone here, key to a wider goal for an open RAN approach.

Orange hopes open RAN will “simplify the deployment of multi-vendor networks and eliminate vendor lock-in”.

The operator announced a two-year trial for what it claimed as Europe’s first SA end-to-end 5G cloud native network during MWC21 Barcelona, unveiling partnerships with open RAN, cloud and equipment suppliers.

Mavenir was among the initial list, along with Casa Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Dell, Amdocs and Xiaomi.

NEC comes on board as a new partner to the effort and the latest development has been deployed at an Orange facility in Paris.

Arnaud Vamparys, SVP RAN and microwaves at Orange, said the milestone illustrated the operator’s commitment to supporting multi-vendor open RAN and its push “contributed to the development of a strong” sector for the approach in Europe.