Vodafone says it has become the first UK mobile operator to switch on a live Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) 4G site. This first site connects Vodafone customers in the Royal Welsh Showground in Powys, Wales.
OpenRAN is a new way of building a mobile site and gives mobile network operators more suppliers to choose from. Instead of being reliant on heavily-customised hardware available from only a few vendors, the capabilities of the mobile site are hosted as software in the cloud, with readily-available, low-cost hardware at the site.
Vodafone says the approach reduces cost, increases flexibility and enables new suppliers to support the roll-out of mobile networks across the UK. Mavenir is supporting Vodafone with this deployment at the Royal Welsh Showground.
Scott Petty, CTO of Vodafone UK, said, “This is our first live OpenRAN site in the UK, and that’s an important milestone. This new approach has the ability to make us less dependent on current larger technology suppliers, and find ways to reduce the cost of rolling out mobile coverage. OpenRAN can also help close the digital divide between urban and rural Britain.”
Matt Warman, digital infrastructure minister, added, “OpenRAN gives mobile companies the flexibility to use multiple suppliers in their 4G and 5G networks. This is vital to help the market grow, build resilience and give people fast, reliable and secure internet connections wherever they live and work.
“I congratulate Vodafone on its first live OpenRAN site in the UK that will benefit people in Powys. This technology can make a real difference in improving connectivity in rural communities and I look forward to continuing to work closely with Vodafone and other operators on our plans to diversify the telecoms supply chain.”
Today’s announcement builds on a number of recent Vodafone initiatives to extend 4G and 5G services to rural communities. These include launching a Shared Rural Network (SRN) site in Wales and connecting residents in rural Scotland under the Scottish 4G Infill Programme.