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NEC joins the Orange 5G SA cloud party

now open sign neon

French operator group Orange has brought in NEC to help it deploy massive MIMO on its 5G SA experimental network.

Orange opened what it claimed was ‘Europe’s first 5G SA fully end-to-end experimental cloud network’ in July of last year. It was positioned as one of those sandbox technology environments that can let a bunch of companies easily collaborate and, ideally, set technological precedents for the wider industry.

The most recent of these is a claimed ‘deployment milestone for Open vRAN mMIMO running over O-RAN Alliance Open Fronthaul Interface’. A conspicuous absence from the initial roster of tech partners was Japan’s NEC, which has positioned itself as a key player in this space. That has been since been rectified, as shown by the use of its 32T32R mMIMO active antenna unit in the latest effort.

The other major partner was US software vendor Mavenir, which contributed its Open vRAN software. The key breakthrough involved testing interoperability between radios and virtualised Distributed Units over the O-RAN Alliance Open Fronthaul Interface. It’s this sort of thing that should enable the Open RAN concept to deliver on its promise of allowing a lot more companies to provide the bits and bobs that go into a radio access network.

“Mavenir and NEC’s successful Open RAN deployment of mMIMO on Orange’s Innovation 5G SA experimental network is a major stepping stone on the road towards Open RAN deployments and illustrates Orange’s commitment to support the development of multi-vendor Open RAN solutions with innovative partners,” said Arnaud Vamparys, SVP of Radio Access Networks and Microwaves at Orange.

“This synergy is exactly what Open RAN needs to successfully deliver on its promise of a truly open multi-vendor ecosystem,” said Naohisa Matsuda, GM of NEC’s 5G Strategy and Business. “Forward-thinking mobile operators like Orange are showcasing the potential of Open RAN mMIMO. This is the right time for the mobile industry to follow the blueprint set by industry-leading operators to move to the new era of Open RAN-powered connectivity.”

“Deploying 5G SA mMIMO is a significant milestone in developing Open RAN and transitioning from virtualised to cloudified networks,” said Hubert de Pesquidoux, Executive Chairman of Mavenir. “We are very proud of our continuing collaboration with Orange, NEC and other companies that are proving the potential of the multi-vendor, cloud-native, standards-based approach.”

Apparently this Orange-led effort is internally called Pikeo, which doesn’t seem to mean anything but isn’t the first time Orange has used it. International collaborations such as this are the way forward for a technology that lacks a formal standardisation process. Having said that, certain companies seem to be ubiquitous in its development and there need to be measures in place to ensure is remains truly open.

 

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