TIM is first to claim open RAN activation after five-company pact


TIM has deployed its first open RAN network following an agreement between five European operators earlier this year to work together on new network technology.

The first city to be served by the former Telecom Italia is Faenza (pictured), 50km south-west of Bologna. US company JMA Wireless has supplied a solution that decouples the hardware and software of the radio access network (RAN).

John Mezzalingua, CEO of JMA Wireless, told a House of Representatives subcommittee in Washington that open RAN — sometimes called O-RAN — “will unleash innovation because it allows more companies to compete for the same business. Currently, carriers are limited to two, possibly three, companies to supply the significant pieces of any given network. Through industry consolidation, there are now five companies worldwide who can supply all the integrated pieces, two of which are Chinese.”

TIM echoed this idea in its announcement, saying it was applying “a supplier diversification logic” and wanted to foster “a broader industrial ecosystem”.

The operator added: “In this case the radio node on the 4G network has been built by combining JMA’s software baseband with the radio units provided by Microelectronics Technology (MTI).”

Taiwan-based MTI started out in microwave and satellite communications but has now expanded into mobile telecoms.

TIM said the Faenza installation is 4G, but “going forward, this venture will also extend to 5G solutions”.

Four companies — Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone — signed the open RAN agreement in January, with TIM joining a few weeks later.

The agreement, as revealed by TIM, showed that the companies want to create a “joint European ecosystem” for mobile communications, with an action plan to be set out within six months.

TIM said yesterday: “This initiative will see the group implement new solutions on its commercial network to benefit customers and businesses thereby speeding up the deployment of digital services.”

It added: “The initiative is covered by the signing of a memorandum of understanding last February with the main European operators to promote open RAN technology with the aim of speeding up the implementation of new generation mobile networks, in particular 5G, cloud and edge computing.”