Vodafone Group and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) claimed to have boosted the prospects for open RAN by proving its ability to increase the capacity of 5G sites, following a trial conducted with several vendors.

The laboratory test delivered a twofold increase in 5G site capacity using a programmable AI RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) compatible with open RAN components from Cohere Technologies, VMware, Capgemini Engineering and Intel.

In a statement, the group hailed the trial as a “key milestone in demonstrating the potential of RIC sitting at the heart of an open RAN installation.”

The companies claimed the work was was the first example of a 5G multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) running on a RIC located at a multi-vendor open RAN test site.

“MU-MIMO apportions ample bandwidth to individual users connected to the same mobile site and is considered the pivotal technique to boost cell capacity in future 5G networks.”

Vodafone Group head of open RAN Francisco Martin added the system “reduces the need for expensive hardware by a third and cuts down on energy consumption”, benefits which will “ultimately encourage the introduction of new, innovative services”.

GSMA Intelligence head Peter Jarich told Mobile World Live the contribution of Cohere Technologies “is bound to get attention”.

The company’s Spectrum Multiplier MU-MIMO equipment was employed as part of the site capacity expansion and Jarich noted this, along with the company’s win of a GLOMO in 2020, is “an important testament to how this technology is maturing”.

Jarich explained the promise of “open RAN is about more than just mixing and matching radios and baseband units”, with the RIC function enabling operators “to add-in new applications for better control and optimisation of their networks”.