Vodafone and Orange say they have completed the first 4G calls over a shared Open RAN network in rural areas of Romania.
The shared Open RAN pilot network, deployed in a rural area near Bucharest, is part of Vodafone and Orange’s agreement announced in February to trial Open RAN with RAN sharing in rural parts of Europe where they both have mobile networks.
The rural Romanian pilot leverages Orange’s integration tests in the Open RAN laboratory in France, as well as the experience gained from Vodafone UK’s Open RAN deployment. The Open RAN stack on the shared sites includes a Samsung commercial virtualized RAN solution, Wind River abstraction layer on top of hardware to deploy and scale the RAN software, and Dell PowerEdge servers.
With 4G calls having been successfully placed on the their respective Open RAN sharing sites in Romania, Vodafone and Orange say they will soon introduce 2G and 5G to the sites.
They claim this will mark the first time 2G is fully integrated within a commercial shared Open RAN network in Europe.
Vodafone chief network officer Alberto Ripepi said the operators have developed a model that will serve as a blueprint to extend mobile networks to rural communities across Europe.
“Open RAN sharing will allow us to reduce costs by sharing hardware components while independently managing our own RAN software in the cloud to be able to offer differentiated services to our respective customers.”
Orange’s chief technology and innovation officer Bruno Zerbib added the pilot shows that Open RAN is “now mature for roll-out in brownfield networks” and “opens the door for wider scale deployments across the group, and paves the way towards fully automated and intelligent networks.”