Vodafone Group struck a deal with research centre i2CAT Foundation to build a multi-vendor management system using improved automation offered by open RAN networks, designed to fix network faults and respond to cyber threats faster.

In a statement, Vodafone explained the pair will develop a “highly-responsive” system to monitor and analyse multi-vendor network logs through new automation techniques, using machine learning.

This will help identify login attempts and flag failed or unauthorised access, in turn improving threat prevention efforts for different suppliers in the ecosystem.

Work on the software, dubbed the Holistic ORAN Logging and Metrics Security Shield (HOLMES), has taken place at Vodafone’s R&D facility in Malaga, Spain. Vodafone noted the solution will provide it with a dashboard “to respond and to control open RAN events” over a wide geographical area in Europe.

It also supports the operator’s goal to deploy open RAN technology for 30 per cent of its masts by 2030, Vodafone said.

Providing more details on the collaboration, Vodafone explained the companies will “test the ability to differentiate the diverse types of logs received, classify them, and manage them according to the specific threat”.

HOLMES will be integrated with open RAN’s key components, and will be shared with industry group O-RAN Alliance to “enable different vendors to contribute and adopt new standardised approaches to log formats”.

Commenting on the solution, Massimo Fatato, head of networks at NTT Data UK&I — a Vodafone partner — said the management system “is a fundamental component to fulfil Open RAN’s promise of interoperability and flexibility in the access network”.

Vodafone has made open RAN strides in Europe, most recently with pilot tests in Romania and Italy. Earlier this year, it also extended an open RAN research collaboration with Intel and the University of Malaga to explore use of AI for future semiconductor technologies.