VODAFONE MOVES TO PREPARE OPEN RAN FOR PRIME TIME


SANTIAGO TENORIO SANZ


Head of Group Network Architecture Vodafone

INTERVIEW: Santiago Tenorio Sanz, head of group network architecture at Vodafone (pictured), explained the operator is taking a pragmatic approach to deployment of open RAN technology, noting the sector isn't yet ready to serve dense urban areas or support 5G services but this could become a reality over the next two years.

Speaking to Mobile World Live as part of our Themed Week launch, Sanz (who also chairs open RAN backer and industry association TIP) stated: “I think the technology is ready in 2G, 3G and 4G to serve some...not the most demanding areas. So, outside of dense, urban cities: suburban, rural areas, we’re ready for that, but I think it will take some more development time to deploy open RAN and to bring commercial service to dense urban [areas], and also to 5G.”

Sanz added recent moves by established vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to back the technology was a promising sign.

“When you reach a point at which incumbents in general and the industry stops telling you that you're doing the wrong thing and starts jumping on the train, that is when, you know, the train is about to leave the station. It's a phenomenal sign."

Tests

To develop the technology further, Vodafone, which has been one of the biggest operator backers of open RAN technology in recent years, has been conducting trials in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Turkey, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of the Congo. From the trials, Sanz said it was clear there was huge potential in open RAN to help accelerate innovation, and help operators reduce cost.

Vodafone raised industry eyebrows in November 2019 when it launched a network tender across its entire European footprint, which opened the door to open RAN technology.

Hear Tenorio's latest thoughts on this tender, and wider challenges around open RAN, in the full interview here