TIP Summit: Vodafone, Telefónica plow forward with OpenRAN pilots

The third annual TIP Summit kicked off in London Tuesday morning with the news that Telefónica and Vodafone were taking their respective OpenRAN projects into pilot deployments.

The pilots of the OpenRAN platforms, which will include Facebook, will take place in Turkey with Vodafone and Telefónica in Latin America.

Over the past two years, Facebook's Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has been focused on getting equipment into the hands of carriers and actual deployments into the field. TIP is working on the Radio Access Network (RAN) uses cases on several different fronts including OpenRAN. OpenRAN is a TIP project that was designed to improve RAN efficiencies while also making them interoperable.

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In June, Vodafone and Telefónica announced a joint RFI to look at the existing market opportunities for RAN technologies that are software-based and that run on top of commoditized hardware.

Telefónica and Vodafone also announced the vendors that they are using in their OpenRAN pilot deployments. The vendors that are deemed as having the most compliant end-to-end platforms were Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless.

According to Mobile World Live, Vodafone is scaling up its OpenRAN deployments with three new trials. Vodafone will work with Parallel Wireless in a fourth-quarter trial in Turkey this year while two other trials will ramp up in the first quarter of next year in Africa with technologies from Mavenir and Altiostar.

“These pilots are aimed at testing the operational and commercial models,” said Vodafone's Yago Tenorio, head of network strategy and architecture, in the Mobile World Live article. “They will be larger scale trials.”

Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless will also be participants in the Telefónica's three pilots in Latin America. The first two trials will kickoff in Peru and Columbia while the third pilot, which is slated for the second or third quarter of next year, has yet to be announced, according to Mobile World Live.

David del Val Latorre, CEO of R&D for Telefónica, said the focus of the three pilots was to ensure that the end-to-end deployment worked well, according to Mobile World Live.

Telefónica and Vodafone teamed up on RAN via the RFI to spur innovation across the RAN market. Mobile World Live reported that there were more than 20 RFI submissions.

Telefónica cited the example of its Internet para Todos project to showcase the benefits of OpenRAN. The project, which also uses big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence, was designed to connect 100 million inhabitants of Latin America who lack reliable services.

“We focused on the RAN—generating a radically lower cost structure,” said del Val Latorre, according to Mobile World Live's story. “We wanted a new cost structure for the radio but to provide the same performance we have in cities. And our solution had to be open.”