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Swarna Chakraborty, Pune

Vodafone has underscored its dedication to Open RAN networks by teaming up with Intel to create purpose-built chipset architecture for this emerging technology. The European operator has also achieved a significant milestone by making its first 4G calls using Open RAN, collaborating with Orange in Romania. Additionally, Vodafone has partnered with Nokia to pilot Open RAN technology in Italy.

Open RAN enables mobile operators to diversify their equipment sources, enhancing flexibility within their networks. Despite its potential, progress in the Open RAN market has been sluggish, with established players like Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei dominating the scene. However, Vodafone’s collaboration with Intel signals a proactive step toward innovation.

In 2022, Vodafone committed to collaborating with Intel to design its own chip architecture. Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s director of network architecture, confirmed the joint venture, emphasizing the rapid prototyping and testing capabilities that this partnership brings. The companies will create these chipsets at Vodafone’s campus in Malaga, Spain, making them accessible to smaller vendors for testing their algorithms without significant financial investments in silicon.

Moreover, Vodafone and Orange successfully conducted 4G calls using Open RAN technology in rural areas near Bucharest, leveraging hardware and software provided by Samsung, Wind River, and Dell. In Italy, Vodafone aims to validate Nokia’s Open RAN solution, ensuring it matches the functionality and performance of purpose-built RAN solutions.

These strategic collaborations and advancements are pivotal in shaping the future of Open RAN networks, offering a promising path toward greater innovation and flexibility in the telecommunications industry.