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Vodafone fills the Huawei hole with pioneering 5G OpenRAN site

Vodafone has launched the UK’s first 5G OpenRAN site in Bath, which promises to help fill the hole left by Huawei’s enforced exit from the country’s network infrastructure.

OpenRAN, which stands for Radio Access Network, is a more open way to handling mobile networks. Rather than the traditional method of network providers supplying proprietary hardware and software, it takes a more egalitarian approach, separating hardware from software and ensuring that various network components from different operators are interoperable.

Major network operators like Vodafone can now turn to more specialist suppliers for their network needs. With its first 5G OpenRAN site, for example, Vodafone has partnered with Samsung, Wind River, Dell, Intel, Keysight Technologies and Capgemini Engineering.

By spreading the load of 5G network implementation and lowering the barrier for entry, networks hope to create a more efficient and sustainable network.

As the Financial Times points out, this is seen as a key way for the UK’s fledgling 5G network to fill the hole left by Huawei, which has been shut out of sensitive parts of the UK network. UK companies have been banned from buying Huawei’s 5G equipment, which is a problem given that the Chinese tech giant holds a sizeable advantage in the field.

Vodafone was one such network that was heavily reliant on Huawei’s equipment, and has led the way on implementation an OpenRAN solution.

The UK network will set up 2,500 OpenRAN sites across the country by 2027, starting in the South West. Following this initial Bath site, Vodafone will roll out a series of 10 to 15 in the wider South West region by the end of the year.

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