O2 has today announced a new Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) project to help customers better utilise its network.
O-RAN is an open and software-defined network technology that enables operators to broaden their number of network infrastructure partners in order to facilitate a better and more cost-effective network service for customers.
This is particularly useful for coverage in hard to reach rural locations - such as an area with a very small population - or where a sharing model is more cost effective such as dense urban locations where large numbers of small cells are required.
O2 is working with partners including; Mavenir, DenseAir and WaveMobile to introduce O-RAN solutions that will redefine mobile network economics. The company expects commercial deployment of O-RAN to pick up pace over next 18-24 months:
- Working with Mavenir, O2 is enhancing coverage and capacity in high-density environments in London, providing enhanced mobile connectivity and better customer experience where customers need it most from stadiums to shopping centres.
- With DenseAir, O2 is working at Millbrook to deploy both 4G and 5G networks over an O-RAN solution. O2 works with Millbrook Proving Ground as the public and private network provider of 5G connectivity for the testing and development of CAV technology. The neutral host Network will support collaboration on trials and tests of ITS networks at Millbrook.
- Coverage solutions are being developed with WaveMobile whose current O-RAN network is active on several sites across the UK including Woldingham, Surrey that carries mobile traffic for O2 customers. In the future this type of solution could be expanded to provide community based mobile services in ‘not spots’.
Brendan O’Reilly, CTO of O2 said: “Connectivity is a lifeline for consumers and businesses alike and we’re committed to delivering the best possible network experience for our customers.
"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”.
Paul Senior, CEO of Dense Air said: “Dense Air and Airspan Networks, our technology partner, have built a unique hyper-dense pervasive 4G and 5G O-RAN based solution at Millbrook.
"The O-RAN deployment which utilises over 70 radio nodes, 19km Fibre and mmWave front haul delivers network capacity at a scale never seen before at any Proving Ground, allowing the validation of future CAV (Connected and Autonomous Vehicle ) use cases”.
Eric Stonestrom, CEO of Airspan Networks, added “this was a very challenging project, that pushed the boundaries of O-RAN technology that Airspan has been developing over the last few years. We are delighted to see our leading hardware and software solutions in action in such a compelling application and are pleased to help Telefonica O2 increase the options for 5G network infrastructure build”.
Anthony Timson, CTO of WaveMobile said “We are proud to be working with O2 by providing hard to reach and low consumer density areas with essential coverage. Cost optimised O-RAN technology allows greater capacity and simpler configuration which massively benefits the end user”.
Stefano Cantarelli, CMO of Mavenir said “Densification of coverage in cities is a challenge but OpenRAN is ready to take it forward and Mavenir is proud to work with O2”.
Simon Fletcher, CTO Real Wireless said, “As a founder member of the AutoAir consortium Real Wireless was delighted to see the development of the eco-system when we welcomed Telefonica O2 into the project.
"It has been impressive to see the dedicated way in which the vendors have work closely with O2 on the opening of the public RAN, to enable the vision of the project. Innovative approaches have been applied for Process and technical alignment, a proof point for me that the UK can and will be at the forefront of this trend”.