LIVE FROM FYUZ22, MADRID: Vodafone Group unveiled a string of open RAN partnerships with major vendors and revealed plans to conduct a commercial 5G pilot using the architecture in Germany next year, as it moves toward mass deployment in its European footprint.

In a slew of announcements, the operator group revealed partnerships with network vendors Nokia and Samsung Electronics, chipmaker Marvell and operator NTT Docomo, all promoted as aiding its open RAN efforts in Europe.

Under its pact with Nokia the operator will jointly work on an open RAN baseband solution. It will partner with Samsung and Marvell in an attempt to speed-up data processing and improve the performance of networks to match traditional infrastructure.

The operator group noted its memorandum of understanding with NTT Docomo is around cooperation in an attempt to drive greater system integration and service efficiency across the industry.

Alongside Vodafone’s announcements Qualcomm released details of an expanded partnership with the operator which will see the pair work on developing and testing 5G open RAN infrastructure with plans to showcase the resulting hardware at MWC 2023 in Barcelona.

Germany trial
The various partnership announcements made today (25 October) came as Vodafone committed to its latest step towards a goal of making 30 per cent of its European sites equipped with open RAN by 2030, with the operator set to run a 5G commercial pilot of the architecture in two sites in Germany in 2023.

Its latest deployment will use Samsung software and radio equipment and is intended as a precursor to a wider rollout in the country “over the next two to three years”.

Discussing the Germany pilot Vodafone director of network architecture Santiago Tenorio said: “This will be the first open RAN system in Germany that not only uses open interfaces but is built on both hardware and software from multiple vendors that is fully interchangeable and interoperable based on the choice of the operator.

“It brings timely resilience to the supply chain, allowing us to work with a greater number and more diverse pool of suppliers. Greater competition also encourages innovation, leading to a better mobile experience for our customers.”