Orange assembles magnificent seven for fully automated network trial

French operator group Orange got some of its mates together to build what it claims is Europe’s first 5G SA fully end-to-end experimental cloud network.

The great experiment is taking place in the town of Lannion in north west France, where Orange has some labs. Its overarching purpose is to have a go at creating a zero-touch network that is so automated it pretty much takes care of itself, leaving Orange employees free to have the kind of lunches hitherto reserved exclusively for senior Eurocrats.

To pull it off Orange has recruited no less than six technology partners, each of which brought their own unique speciality to the project – one is an explosives expert, another is handy with a knife, and so on. Only joking. Mavenir is dealing with Open RAN, Casa Systems brings a cloud 5G SA core network, HPE  has got Subscriber Data Management covered, Dell is dealing with the servers and RAN hardware, ONAP software has a role in the orchestration, while Xiaomi is chucking its smartphones into the mix.

“Our ambition is to prepare Orange for the operator of the future by building more resilient and auto-adaptive networks that offer best in class quality of service in each situation,” said Michaël Trabbia, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Orange. “This experimental network represents an important milestone on our way to implement and deploy Open RAN and AI technologies to prepare on-demand connectivity and zero touch operator capabilities.”

Laboured classic movie analogies aside, this does look like a promising trial. For 5G to deliver on its promises a far greater degree of automation is required, especially for things like real-time network slicing. An added advantage, as Light Reading observes, is that automation allows companies to get rid of awkward, expensive human beings. The prospect of such systems becoming self-aware and turning on their creators is surely a risk worth taking to save a few euros.


Image credit: Photographer unknown. Distributed by Fox Film Corporation., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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