Vodafone has announced it will introduce virtualised open networks based on OpenRAN architecture, in parts of its UK network, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique.
The trials will focus on mobile calls and data services across 2G, 3G and 4G, with 5G possible over OpenRAN in the future. OpenRAN could be debuted elsewhere across Europe depending on the success of the trials in the UK.
The move to virtualised open networks is gaining momentum among operators to help reduce costs, with Rakuten a global first for 5G Open vRAN architecture. Disrupting the status quo in the telecoms equipment market could have significant implications by opening up the competitive playing field and moving towards common standards that help drive scale economies – and therefore cost efficiency for rollouts. However, it remains early stages, and a number of key issues – particularly around security – need to be tested through trials such as that being run by Vodafone.