O2 UK chooses NEC for OpenRAN trial

base stations and mobile phone transmitters against the background of the evening sky

Following the decision of parent company Telefónica to follow Rakuten’s lead on OpenRAN, O2 UK completed a trial of the new tech in partnership with NEC.

The trial was conducted on O2 UK’s network and included the whole Rakuten ecosystem of OpenRAN vendors, including NEC and Altiostar. It seems to be the final realization of a cunning plan announced last March, just as the world was grinding to a halt. GigaTera Communications and Supermicro also get a mention and we just have to assume Intel and Xilinx are still involved too, but NEC performed the systems integrator role.

“The partnership between NEC and O2 promises to accelerate the provision and growth of Open RAN solutions in the UK,” said Derek McManus, COO of O2. “O2 will continue to transform our network through collaboration and the optimisation of new technologies such as Open RAN.”

“We are extremely excited to be driving this journey on the home ground of our Open RAN Center of Excellence in the UK,” said Mayuko Tatewaki, General Manager, Service Provider Solutions Division at NEC. “Through close collaboration with O2, we are honoured to contribute to the diversification and innovation of network transformation.”

So far, so generic, but it’s good to see the newly-liberated UK take a leading role in the development of this potentially revolutionary technology. One of the main benefits of leaving the EU is the ability to quickly exploit new opportunities, free from the bloc’s bureaucratic drag. The recent vaccine melodrama has shown it’s already paying off and you have to wonder to what extent this initiative overlaps with the European OpenRAN cabal.

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