Docomo, Fujitsu, NEC claim multi-vendor carrier aggregation world first

telecoms radio towers

Big telco vendors have another reason to sleep in fear, after Docomo, Fujitsu and NEC laid claim to the world’s first successful 5G carrier aggregation using a multi-vendor RAN.

Demonstrating that O-RAN can pull off the same tricks as traditional networks is another feather in the cap of the O-RAN Alliance, which wants the mobile industry to embrace networks based on off-the-shelf hardware and open standards.

“The deployment of O-RAN-compliant products will enable Docomo to flexibly build networks and provide 5G services that meet customer needs,” said Docomo SVP Naoki Tani, in a statement.

With hardware supplied by NEC and Fujitsu, the companies combined a 5G radio unit from one vendor using the 3.7 GHz band with another vendor’s 5G radio unit running on the 4.5 GHz band, achieving 4.2 Gbps on the downlink. The results were presented during an O-RAN Plugfest virtual conference organised by the O-RAN Alliance.

“The success of carrier aggregation in the 5G bands is a critical step in the ongoing enhancement of 5G network performance. I am very pleased that in collaboration with Docomo and Fujitsu we have now achieved high-performance O-RAN multi-vendor connectivity. This will lay the foundation for more open 5G services and business,” said Atsuo Kawamura, president of NEC’s network services business.

Indeed, the O-RAN hype cycle is in full flow at the moment.

Earlier this month, Spanish incumbent Telefonica declared that OpenRAN is a key piece of the evolution towards end-to-end, virtualised, and open network architecture, when it signed a memorandum of understanding with upstart Japanese 5G operator – and major OpenRAN backer – Rakuten.

In the US, the FCC recently hosted its first online OpenRAN forum, inviting telcos, vendors and the like to promote OpenRAN as a means by which American companies could regain lost ground in the telco technology market.

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