LIVE FROM MWC21 BARCELONA: Deutsche Telekom activated an open RAN testbed it claimed to be the first in Europe featuring Massive MIMO radios, seeking to validate the technology provided by a number of vendors involved in the project.

It revealed O-RAN Town in late 2020. It will now use open RAN fronthaul interfaces and Massive MIMO radios to deliver 4G and 5G across up to 25 sites.

Massive MIMO increases the number of devices each radio can support and is a cornerstone of many 5G networks, so its integration with open RAN is an important goal for operators.

Claudia Nemat, board member for technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom (pictured), called the network launch a “pivotal moment on our journey to drive the development of open RAN as a competitive solution for macro deployment at scale”.

Intel FlexRAN software is the foundation of the entire initial open RAN cloud architecture, with Fujitsu and NEC providing the remote radio units.

Cloud-native baseband software from Mavenir runs on Dell and Supermicro servers.

Nemat explained O-RAN Town will expand over time with a diverse set of suppliers.

Deutsche Telekom said one important goal is to test and improve its ONAP open source-compatible network orchestration software, which it developed to handle the advanced organisation required by multi-vendor deployments.

Nemat said another goal for O-RAN Town is to gain operational experience with network automation, a feature key to realising the efficiencies promised by open RAN.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Telekom agreed to cooperate on open RAN with fellow European heavyweights Telecom Italia, Orange, Vodafone Group and Telefonica.

Vodafone aims to be the first European operator to deliver commercial service using open RAN, with Orange this week outlining a trial of a cloud-native, end-to-end standalone 5G network.