In a move that is key for the development and take-up of 5G networks, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone are joining forces to support the rollout of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) as the technology of choice for future mobile networks across Europe.
The four carriers signed a memorandum of understanding in which they expressed their individual commitment to the implementation and deployment of Open RAN solutions that take advantage of new open virtualised architectures, software and hardware to build more agile and flexible mobile networks.
The Open RAN market is expanding rapidly and is expected to exceed the traditional RAN market for the first time by 2027-2028.
Meanwhile, according to a report by RAN Research, Open RAN deployments will account for 58% of total RAN capex spending at $32.3 billion and be deployed at 65% of all sites by 2026.
Enrique Blanco, chief technology & information officer at Telefónica, commented: “Open RAN is the natural evolution of radio access technologies and it will be key for 5G networks. Telefónica believes the whole industry must work together to make it a reality. I am excited to be partnering with major European operators to promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility, efficiency and security of our networks. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the European industry not only to promote the development of 5G but also to participate in its sustainable technological development.”
Added Michaël Trabbia, chief technology & information officer at Orange: “Open RAN is the next major evolution of 5G RAN. Orange believes it is a strong opportunity for existing and emerging European actors to develop O-RAN based products and services, starting with indoor and rural areas. This evolution should be supported by a large European ecosystem (academics and research, software and hardware developers, integrators, public funding for R&D) as it is a unique occasion to reinforce the European competitiveness and leadership in the global market.”
Deutsche Telekom CTO Claudia Nemat said: “Open RAN is about network innovation, flexibility and faster rollout. Deutsche Telekom is committed to its promotion, development and adoption to ensure the best network experience for our customers. To seize this opportunity, it is critical that we join forces with our leading European partners to foster a diverse, competitive and secure 4G/5G ecosystem based on open RAN solutions. Through our open labs and community activities, we facilitate smaller players to enter the market with their solutions. To build on this foundational work, we urge government support and funding for community activities that will strengthen the European ecosystem and leadership in 5G.”
Vodafone Group CTO Johan Wibergh added: “Open RAN has the power to stimulate European tech innovation using the expertise of the companies that develop it and the governments who support it. Opening up the market to new suppliers, with our ambition and government advocacy, will mean faster 5G deployment, cost-saving network efficiencies and world-class services. We remain committed to rolling out our Open RAN program across Europe, and we’re taking it even further. We aim to open R&D labs for new, smaller suppliers to develop their products. But to do this we need a supportive investment environment and political backing, and we urge European governments to join us in creating the Open RAN ecosystem.”
The four operators believe that the European Commission and the national governments have an important role to play to foster and develop the Open RAN ecosystem by funding early deployments, research and development, open test lab facilities and incentivising supply chain diversity by lowering barriers to entry for small suppliers and startups who can avail of these labs to validate open and interoperable solutions.