O2 partners up for UK OpenRAN project

O2 expects the commercial deployment of OpenRAN to accelerate over the next 18-24 months

O2, the U.K. operator owned by Telefonica, will work with Mavenir, DenseAir and WaveMobile to deploy 4G and 5G networks over OpenRAN solutions in dense environments and more isolated rural communities. The most recent telecom to join the OpenRAN movement, O2 believes the coverage offered by O-RAN could deliver better and more reliable coverage to more locations and users.

“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 CTO Brendan O’Reilly.

For its part in the project, Mavenir, which launched its fully virtualized 4G/5G OpenRAN solution in October, will focus its O-RAN attention on London’s high-density areas—such as stadiums and shopping centers—with the objective to deliver enhanced mobile connectivity.

Stefano Cantarelli, CMO of Mavenir, commented, “Densification of coverage in cities is a challenge, but OpenRAN is ready to take it forward.”

WaveMobile’s OpenRAN technology is currently active on several sites across the U.K., according to O2, and additionally, could be used to provide connectivity services in so-called “not spots” in the future.

The U.K. is not the only one interested in advancing O-RAN development and deployment. Earlier this week, a new, bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate that would require the Federal Communications Commission to set aside $750 million in spectrum auction proceeds to strengthen the ecosystem of open standards-based 5G solutions that don’t originate from China, which includes OpenRAN.

The bill aims to “reassert U.S. and Western leadership by encouraging competition with Huawei that capitalizes on U.S. software advantages, accelerating development of an open-architecture model (known as O-RAN) that would allow for alternative vendors to enter the market for specific network components, rather than having to compete with Huawei end-to-end.”

More specifically, one of the two Treasury funds established would be an O-RAN research and development fund of $750 million, to “spur movement towards open-architecture, software-based wireless technologies, [thereby]funding innovative, ‘leap-ahead’ technologies in the U.S. mobile broadband market.”

O2 expects the commercial deployment of OpenRAN to accelerate over the next 18-24 months, and the telecom expects its own OpenRAN initiatives to be ready by Q2 this year.

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