Orange and Vodafone join forces to build shared Open RAN networks across rural Europe

EC probes Orange-Voo mergerOrange and Vodafone will build an Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Romania, following their agreement to build shared Open RAN commercial sites in rural parts of Europe where they both have mobile networks.

The first sites will be located outside the Romanian capital Bucharest which according to the duo will pave the way for wider scale deployments.

Phase one of building plans in Romania is expected to commence this year. The two companies are currently working to individually select strategic vendors for this initial build phase.

The Open RAN Networks will provide the telecommunications operators greater flexibility when adding new radio sites or upgrading existing ones, while keeping the cost and energy consumption low. This model will also serve as a blueprint to extend 4G and 5G networks to rural communities across Europe.

It marks the first time Orange and Vodafone have agreed to share Open RAN networks in Europe.

Michaël Trabbia, chief technology and innovation officer at Orange, said the deployment in Romania “is a significant milestone on the road to wide-scale open RAN adoption across Europe.”

He added, “It is a major step towards agile and fully-automated networks, unleashing the potential of virtualization and AI to boost performance while driving both infrastructure and operational costs down. In particular, Open RAN is a great opportunity to take network sharing to a whole new dimension, with even higher operator differentiation thanks to the ability for each of the partners to tune its network more independently according to its promises towards its own customers.”

Alberto Ripepi, chief network officer of vodafone, said: “By combining resources, we will reduce the cost of hardware, minimise fuel consumption and the need for duplicate sites whilst eradicating coverage not-spots.

“Open RAN also means we can more quickly add new software features without necessarily replacing the hardware components, which is often the case today. This minimises any disruption to service and ensures customers in rural areas receive the same upgrades as those in the cities.”

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