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The OpenRAN (O-RAN) approach would give mobile operators access to a far greater selection of companies when selecting an equipment provider

Back in October, Vodafone announced that it was launching O-RAN trials in the UK and Africa.

Now, O2 is following suit.

O-RAN presents a vendor-neutral approach to RAN-related hardware and software, therefore allowing for increased interoperability between operators. This means that operators will have far more vendors to choose from when deploying their networks.

The benefits of O-RAN also extend to customers, potentially allowing operators to achieve greater coverage in difficult areas. This is particularly true of remote rural communities, which O-RAN’s sharing model will make more cost-effective to reach, as well as very dense urban locations, which will require a vast number of small cells to cover.

“O-RAN represents a really exciting opportunity to deliver better coverage, in more places, more of the time. By opening up our radio access network to smaller vendors, and as we look towards wider adoption of 5G, O-RAN will be part of the solution to bring the latest connectivity to more people around the country,” said O2’s CTO, Brendan O’Reilly.

Commercial deployment of O-RAN is expected to be seen in around two years.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the US is also strongly considering O-RAN.

The Senate is currently facing a bipartisan bill that would dedicate $1.25 billion for 5G O-Ran R&D, in an attempt to propel Western tech beyond the perceived threat from Huawei’s end-to-end capabilities.  

“As I’ve said over and over again, confronting China is not the same as being competitive with China. It is time we do just that,” said Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Other senators were less magnanimous in their motivation.

“It is not only in our national security interests to support American competition in the 5G market, but it is also in our economic interests to continue to build and support an economy that leverages American strengths and creates American jobs in the industries of the future without relying on malign Chinese state-directed actors like Huawei and ZTE,” said Marco Rubio, Florida’s Republican Senator.

 

To discuss the latest developments in O-RAN technology and implementation in the UK, visit Connected Britain 2020.

 

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