Telefonica’s German unit switched on its first virtualised RAN (vRAN) and open RAN commercial site in the country to provide 4G and 5G services, with network supplier Samsung powering the deployment.

Following lab tests, the two companies stated the commercial site is now live in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria with plans to expand the vRAN and open RAN network to seven additional locations over the coming months.

Mallik Rao, chief technology and information officer at Germany’s second largest operator, claimed open RAN is a building block that will help the operator automate its network, deploy new updates at a faster rate and utilise network components with more flexibility.

For the initial launches, the vendor is supplying its O-RAN compliant radios, which include its 64T64R Massive MIMO radios, that support low-and-mid bands.

The next step includes deploying Samsung’s network automation platform to control lifecycle management from deployment and operation to maintenance.

The two companies first announced their collaboration in October 2023 ahead of the initial shipments three months ago of Samsung’s 4G and 5G kit and software.

Over the past several years, Samsung has emerged as a 5G rival to leading equipment vendors Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE. Among others, it has vRAN and open RAN network deals with Verizon and Vodafone Group.

At the end of last year Deutsche Telekom (Germany’s largest operator) revealed it had open RAN sites operational in the German city of Neubrandenburg using equipment from partners Nokia and Fujitsu, with the operator targeting more than 3,000 antenna locations compatible with the architecture by end-2026.