Orange, Vodafone expand pilot project for 4G Open RAN in rural Romania

Orange, Vodafone expand pilot project for 4G Open RAN in rural Romania

Enseigne d'une boutique Orange, quartier de l'Opéra à Paris

Orange and Vodafone have expanded their pilot project in certain rural areas in Romania, including a fully integrated 2G virtualised RAN (vRAN) technology.

The two firms say the innovation represents an ‘international first’ over a shared operational network (RAN sharing).

The achievement is an important step towards the cloud migration of RAN, allowing network operators to consider moving their entire traditional network to fully virtualised RAN spanning 2G/4G/5G networks.

This is in line with European requirements – particularly in areas where the shutdown of 3G networks is completed or imminent.

"This first development of an operational Open RAN network in Romania represents an important step for Orange in its transition to more agile and automated, cloud-native networks,” said Marius Maican, technology director at Orange Romania.

“Orange will leverage this successful pilot to develop a centre of expertise in Romania in the near future, to support large-scale Open RAN implementations across the Orange network in Europe in the coming years."

The virtualisation of 2G networks represents a major step forward, the companies said in a release, circumventing the obligation to maintain legacy 2G networks developed on specialised hardware, as well as operating virtualised 4G/5G networks as an overlay.

Orange and Vodafone say they achieved this milestone through partnerships with leading Open RAN vendors such as Samsung, Wind River and Dell PowerEdge.

Over the past six months, the operators have gained local operational experience in managing an active Open RAN network used in real operating conditions, contributing to increased confidence in the maturity of virtualised networks.

The observation period has allowed for a comprehensive comparison, between Open RAN and traditional RAN networks and has demonstrated similar performance between the two options.

Nicolae Vilceanu, network director at Vodafone Romania said: "With a focus on customer experience we are leveraging on the Open RAN momentum to move to cloud-native networks. Open RAN fosters faster innovation and development of new features and services by allowing multiple vendors to develop in the RAN space.

“This enables telecommunications operators to maintain a competitive edge and provide their customers with advanced solutions. We are happy to join the Open RAN partners forces for taking further the developments, for a future-proof digital society."

VMO2/CCS deal

Separately, VMO2 Business and Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have signed a new 3-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide enhanced technology and telecoms solutions to support ongoing digitisation efforts within the UK Government and broader public sector.

Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services.

In 2022/23, CCS helped the public sector to achieve commercial benefits equal to £3.8 billion - supporting world-class public services that offer best value for taxpayers.

Through thenew agreement, public sector entities will gain access to a comprehensive portfolio of Virgin Media O2 Business telecoms products and services, designed to enhance collaboration, expedite digitalisation, and provide maximum value for money.

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