Vodafone Group and Nokia successfully completed a three-month open RAN pilot test over standalone (SA) 5G in Italy, part of the operator’s broader strategy to use the technology in Europe.

The pilot test was conducted in the towns of Sernio and Arcisate in Northern Italy, and the open RAN masts at these sites were connected back to Vodafone’s main test centre in Milan over SA 5G, explained the operator in a statement.

Nokia and Vodafone, who teased plans for the trial in October 2023, claim they achieved download speeds of up to 1.1Gb/s and 160Mb/s uplink speeds, performance “comparable” with standard 5G RAN.

The pair noted they also saw improvements in other areas including latency.

The pilot test used Nokia’s equipment kit and network management solution, including the AirScale massive MIMO radios which are “suited to connecting many users in busy urban areas”.

They also deployed the vendor’s RAN software on hardware server from Dell, supported by Red Hat’s cloud infrastructure, as well as Nokia’s AI-powered traffic management system, the MantaRay.

Vodafone said the trial was built on the success of its open RAN deployments in UK and Romania, noting the Italian test is another step towards deploying the technology more widely across Europe, “with the aim of having 30 per cent of its masts based on the technology by 2030”.

Further, the companies claimed the trial reflected Nokia’s AnyRAN approach allowing operators to “mix and match different vendor software and hardware”, which they noted as essential in boosting innovations and solidifying supply chain resilience.