Telefónica has joined hands with NEC to conduct Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) pre-commercial trials in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and Brazil.

As per the details of the agreement, once the companies achieved successful milestones through the pilot trials in Germany and the UK, NEC will be the prime system integrator (SI) to implement and conduct trials of multiple vendor-based Open RAN solutions with the Telefonica Group’s operating companies in the four global markets. It further revealed that the goal is to scale up to 800 mobile sites across these countries that will be in commercial use in 2022.

"Through our long-term engagement with NEC, we have first-hand knowledge of their technological and practical competence, as well as their constant customer-first approach. We are confident they are the right partners for this highly strategic initiative," stated Enrique Blanco, CTIO at Telefónica.

Telefonica and NEC will further strengthen the partnership by collaborating to validate and deploy leading-edge Open RAN technologies, as well as innovative use cases at the newly formed Telefónica Technology and Automation Lab in Madrid in Spain.

"The use cases include those built on AI-driven Radio Intelligent Controllers (RIC) for RAN optimization, service lifecycle automation based on Service Management and Orchestration (SMO), testing and deployment automation in accordance with Telefónica’s Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) framework, as well as power savings optimization," says the Telefonica press release.

"NEC and our subsidiary Netcracker’s accumulated expertise among IT and networks is a valuable asset to help keep operators ahead of the curve in co-creating and redesigning the next generation mobile networks required in the 5G era and beyond," shared Shigeru Okuya, Senior Vice President, NEC.

Telefónica, along with other telcos like Vodafone, is at the forefront of the Open RAN movement. Open RAN is helping the telcos move away from propriety telecom gear and foster innovation by being able to use products from several vendors. Further, it disaggregates the hardware and the software thus leading to a more flexible and agile network. Telefonica signed the Open RAN MoU in January 2021 and aims to reach 50% radio network growth based on Open RAN by 2025.

Karl Liriano, Head Of Radio Networks at O2 Telefonica is speaking on a panel “Open RAN: Cutting through the hype?” at the Total Telecom Congress in October – get involved here