Vodafone has taken a lead in O-RAN with trials in several European countries and establishing the UK’s first O-RAN site in Wales.
The Test and Integration Lab will work with vendors to ensure their products comply with Vodafone and the industry’s O-RAN specs. Work will begin at the innovation and development stages, through to commercial deployments and ongoing lifecycle management.
The report of the Telecom Diversification Taskforce’s states: “The Government should set out a clear ambition for the deployment of equipment from alternative suppliers, or from Open RAN solutions, to a meaningful proportion of the network – and clarify its intent to ensure these alternative suppliers should form an integral part of the UK’s urban networks in the longer term.
It adds: “We recommend the Government sets a challenging ambition to work toward a significant portion of equipment within mobile operators’ networks being supplied by new suppliers and/or through open architectures. The Taskforce believes 25% by the mid 2020s should be the initial aspiration for mobile operators.”
Vodafone’s Chief Network Officer Andrea Dona says the company aims to avoid “a Catch-22 situation, where operators wait to buy perfect products, but the O-RAN vendors need investment to perfect their products”.
The company plans to replace Huawei equipment at 2,600 sites in the UK and is identifying communities where it can use O-RAN to introduce telecoms services.