Vodafone, Qualcomm develop blueprint for Open RAN vendors

Vodafone, Qualcomm develop blueprint for Open RAN vendor diversification

30 April 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Vodafone and Qualcomm Technologies will partner to develop the technical blueprint for equipment suppliers to deliver 5G networks using Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) technology.

The collaboration aims to lower the entry barrier for many companies and drive diversification of network equipment vendors in the 5G Open RAN space.

Specifically, the reference design will be built to support emerging and established network infrastructure vendors develop high-performance, virtualised, interoperable, and modular 5G networks at scale.

“Global supply chains need a diverse and vibrant vendor ecosystem to keep them moving in the event of a product shortage or a single supplier having difficulties. Open RAN provides greater supplier diversity by allowing many more small vendors to compete on the world stage,” said Santiago Tenorio (pictured), head of network architecture at Vodafone.

“Following the recent launch of our new Open RAN Test and Validation Lab, combining the creativity of Vodafone Engineering with that of our partners, we’re delighted to be partnering with Qualcomm Technologies to give smaller suppliers the best start.”

Through this diversification work telcos can companies mix and match hardware and software from a choice of suppliers to extend 5G networks more easily in geographical areas where they are needed.

In addition, the reference design will combine Vodafone’s engineering expertise with Qualcomm Technologies’ expertise in developing high performance and low power Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) solutions for device and infrastructure products.

“Virtualised and Open RAN offer a significant opportunity to make 5G networks more flexible and cost efficient, transforming them into a platform for innovation,” said Dino Flore, vice president of technology at Qualcomm Europe.

“The collaboration to develop comprehensive solutions from Open RAN RU with MaMIMO capabilities to high performance DU platforms provides an important step forward in speeding up the transition to open, virtualised and interoperable radio access networks.”

The reference designs, powered by Qualcomm Radio Unit Platform with Massive MIMO capabilities and Qualcomm Distributed Unit Platform, is expected to be published this year with trials expected to start in the second half of 2022.

“Qualcomm Technologies aims to deliver cutting-edge technology for virtualised, flexible and interoperable 5G infrastructure across the globe,” added Gerardo Giaretta, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies.

“We look forward to expanding our efforts with Vodafone to support flexible and scalable 5G RAN deployments. Ecosystem collaborations like this play a critical role in allowing operators and industry verticals to more quickly and easily add 5G network coverage and capacity where and when it is needed most.”