Vodafone UK has signed a significant deal with Samsung Electronics, which will open up competition among 5G equipment suppliers in Europe.
Vodafone UK confirmed it has chosen Samsung for “Europe’s first wide-scale commercial deployment of Open RAN powered by vRAN,” Vodafone will also use Samsung 5G equipment.
Ever since Huawei was excluded from 5G networks (by 2027) in the UK, there were thought to be only two realistic contenders to supply the needed equipment, namely Nokia and Ericsson.
Samsung will supply its commercial vRAN solutions and O-RAN compliant radios, covering both low-band and mid-band spectrum.
Open RAN (or open radio access networks) it should be remembered is designed to help mobile operators speed up 5G network development through its open architecture.
Essentially it is used in equipment that provides the link between a mobile phone and the mobile network, and includes equipment such as mobile antennas typically located on mobile masts (cell towers) and buildings.
Because Open RAN has an open architecture, it allows for equipment from different suppliers that meet the standards to used together in an interoperable manner.
Vodafone has previously stated it is committing 2,600 mobile sites to OpenRAN technology, in the south-west of England and Wales.
In addition to Samsung’s vRAN solutions and O-RAN compliant radios, Samsung will also deliver to Vodafone UK its O-RAN compliant 5G radios, including Massive MIMO radios.
“Vodafone is committed to leading the next wave of digital transformation across Europe, ensuring fast and reliable connectivity for all,” said Johan Wibergh, CTO at Vodafone. “Open RAN, built on strong partnerships, is key to realising this ambition. Samsung’s innovative solutions and expertise are part of the foundation that is creating this network of the future.”
“We are proud that this collaboration with Vodafone – one of the premier carriers in the world – will be the first scaled deployment of our pioneering 5G technologies in Europe, including vRAN and O-RAN,” said Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, president and head of networks business at Samsung Electronics.
“This is a major step forward, as more operators are transitioning into new RAN technologies to prioritise user experience and efficiency,” said Kyungwhoon Cheun. “We look forward to continue leading the way in 5G innovation to meet our customer’s highest standards of performance, functionality and reliability.”
Three out of the four major UK mobile operators (EE, Vodafone, and Three) have been forced to begin removing Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, after the government gave them until 2027 to remove kit from the Chinese firm.
The only exception to this was O2, which instead opted to use 5G equipment from Ericsson and Nokia right from the start.
Vodafone’s UK network used to contain one-third Huawei and two-thirds Ericsson kit.
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