Big five mobile operators ‘ready for open RAN by 2025’

Big five mobile operators ‘ready for open RAN by 2025’


Five of Europe’s biggest mobile operators said today that they plan to deploy open RAN networks from 2025, following trials.

The five, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, TIM, Telefónica and Vodafone, said small trials are already in place, with new pilots to be announced for this year and larger scale deployments from 2025.

Elisabetta Romano (pictured), chief network, operations and wholesale officer of TIM, said: “Network innovation is increasingly focusing on agility, security and sustainability. TIM strongly believes that the standardization process should fully address all the challenges raised by this new technology, the open RAN.”

But it’s clear from today’s white paper from the five operators that they are behind the schedule they announced back in 2021, when they signed their agreement.

Back then they said they planned to start large-scale rollout “next year” – that is, in 2022. The current target of 2025 shows they are three years behind that schedule.

Today’s white paper says that the priorities for the five are maturity, security and energy efficiency – pretty much what they said two years ago.

“Maturity, security and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important as the technology enters a new phase in its development, and throughout 2022, the companies have encouraged open discussions around these topics,” said the five in a statement.

“With global deployments now reaching tens of thousands of sites (mainly executed by new operators in greenfield deployments), Open RAN is closing the gap with traditional mobile radio networks in terms of feature parity and performance, and further pilots are planned this year, leading to full-scale deployments across Europe in 2025.”

Romano said: “With this white paper we intend to help relevant industry communities to move closer together, avoiding fragmentations, in order to unlock the full ORAN potential with great benefits for the customers.”

Deutsche Telekom group CTO Abdu Mudesir said: “Open RAN has matured over the last months and our initial commercial deployment will start soon.”

Telefónica’s global chief technology and innovation officer (CTIO), Enrique Blanco, said: “OpenRAN will evolve the vendor ecosystem and revolutionise the current 5G industry in the medium to long term. And we are convinced that this is good for our customers and for society, so we are making it happen.”

At Vodafone, chief network officer Alberto Ripepi warned: “Any major proposed change to a vendor ecosystem that has been in place for decades will understandably raise questions.”

But Michaël Trabbia, CTIO at Orange, said: “The significant progress made recently by the Open RAN industry has given us the assurance that open and cloud-native RAN is now geared up for first commercial deployments in brownfield networks within Europe from 2023 onwards.”

Trabbia noted: “Eventually, we expect open RAN to even outperform traditional RAN, allowing us to reap the benefits of fully automated and intelligent networks.”

The report is available here.

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