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Telefónica consortium will launch 5G Open RAN trial this year

Spanish operator group Telefónica has announced the creation of a new consortium of companies aiming to accelerate Open RAN development.

Altiostar, Gigatera Communications, Intel, Supermicro and Xilinx are all mucking in to assist in the development and deployment of Open RAN in 4G and 5G. In announcing the new collective effort Telefónica said it will launch 4G and 5G Open RAN trials in UK, Germany, Spain and Brazil this year, which is refreshing optimistic considering the world has ground to a halt.

Here’s what the Telefónica announcement had to say about the specifics: “The collaboration focuses on the appropriate Distributed Units that implement part of the baseband radio functions using the FlexRAN software reference platform and Intel Xeon processor based servers, appropriate Remote Radio Units connected through open interfaces based on O-RAN fronthaul specification, and suitable software that manages the connectivity in an open Cloud RAN architecture.”

“Once again, Telefónica is leading the transformation towards having the best-in-class networks in our operations with our customers as key pillars,” said Enrique Blanco, Telefónica CTIO. “Open RAN is a fundamental piece for that purpose while widening the ecosystem.”

“Telefónica is known for its leading-edge network and has been championing open vRAN implementations to bring greater network service agility and flexibility,” said Pierre Kahhale, Altiostar VP of Field Operations. “By bringing together the best-of-breed innovation, Telefonica is looking to achieve this vision into their network. We look forward to supporting this transformation of Telefonica’s network.”

“Open RAN offers a way for service providers to enhance customer experiences and enable new revenue-generating applications,” said Dan Rodriguez GM of Intel’s Network Platforms Group.  “We are collaborating closely with Telefonica and the broader ecosystem, and also participating in initiatives like the O-RAN Alliance, to help accelerate innovation in the industry.”

And so on. The rest of the announcement was mostly about bigging up the benefits of O-RAN tech, such as cheapness, adaptability and playing nice with mobile edge computing. The most interesting bit was the ambition to get the ball rolling ASAP, however. O-RAN is very threatening to the business models of the big kit vendors as it opens them up to unprecedented competition. When asked about it they tend to counter that it’s nowhere near ready, but developments like this mean they might need to come up with some new spin soon.


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