Vodafone switches on first UK 5G O-RAN site

Mobile operator Vodafone has switched on what it claims is the first 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) site at scale in Europe.

As part of the company’s plan to rollout O-RAN across 2.500 sites in rural parts of Wales and south west England by 2027, Vodafone has deployed the first live use of the 5G technology at scale across Bath.

Vodafone claims its partnership approach, working alongside companies including NEC, Dell and Samsung, will help stimulate the O-RAN ecosystem across Europe, reducing barriers to entry in the RAN market. The O-RAN approach, which is backed by the UK government, seeks to standardise the design and functionality of network kits allowing RAN technology including antennae and masts from multiple suppliers to be used in 5G networks.

As part of the First Site Installation (FSI) in Bath, Vodafone has deployed Samsung’s virtualised Radio Access Network (vRAN), Dell’s off-the-shelf PowerEdge servers, Intel Xeon processors and Wind Rivers distributed cloud-native platform to host the O-RAN applications.

To mark the switch on, the operator made a first 5G video call over O-RAN infrastructure connecting Vodafone’s chief network officer Andrea Dona and Minister for Digital Infrastructure Julia Lopez.

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