Vodafone Group is to work with Lime Microsystems to develop software-defined cellular radio platforms in support of the operator’s Open RAN vision.

The LimeNET platform aims to bring together a large community of developers to provide innovative and tailored cellular applications more quickly and cost effectively. The applications are aiming to cover all aspects of radio access network (RAN) functionalities and services, ranging from 4G and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), which the operator has successfully interoperability tested, to enterprise-specific applications.

Francisco Martin, the head of Radio Product at Vodafone Group Technology, which recently agreed a deal with Ericsson to supply massive MIMO and carrier aggregation technology for its network in London and the south east of England, said: “Lime Micro is at the forefront of software defined radio technology development and the platform being app-enabled brings the concepts of agile and feature-rich systems together, unlocking new applications that use this radio flexibility and openness to build new services and a completely different radio.”

Ebrahim Bushehri, the chief executive of LIME, added: “LimeNET is the next phase in virtualising wireless networks and bringing products that operators can use for future real-world deployments. The radio was limited before in terms of the flexibility of providing various frequencies and modes, but we’ve solved that with our field programmable radio that can adapt dynamically to multiple bands.”

Rival operators are already rolling out NB-IoT networks. Deutsche Telekom has also rolled out networks in Germany and has reached nationwide NB-IoT coverage in the Netherlands, and is busy building networks in Austria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.