Indo-Pacific Best Practice
On the demand side, Europe's big five mobile network operator groups (Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone) are seeking concerted European support and EU investment with an MoU issued in November 2021. This was preceded by four of these operators signing an earlier MoU stating their public commitment to Open RAN in January 2021.
All of them have signalled a commitment to volume deployments over time, aiming by that to motivate investment from the supplier ecosystem. Vodafone have publicly pledged to deploy 2,500 Open RAN sites in the UK countryside by 2027.
Three of these European operator groups are active in the UK market: Vodafone, Telefonica (with its share in VMO2) and DT (with its share in BT/EE). They also carry out some of their global Open RAN development activities in the UK.
Vodafone Group Chief Technology Officer Johan Wibergh said: “Open RAN has the power to stimulate European tech innovation using the expertise of the companies that develop it and the governments who support it. Opening up the market to new suppliers, with our ambition and government advocacy, will mean faster 5G deployment, cost-saving network efficiencies and world-class services.
“We remain committed to rolling out our Open RAN program across Europe, and we’re taking it even further. We aim to open R&D labs for new, smaller suppliers to develop their products. But to do this we need a supportive investment environment and political backing, and we urge European governments to join us in creating the Open RAN ecosystem.”
Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Telefónica, said: “Open RAN is the natural evolution of radio access technologies and it will be key for 5G networks. Telefónica believes the whole industry must work together to make it a reality. I am excited to be partnering with major European operators to promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility, efficiency and security of our networks. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the European industry not only to promote the development of 5G but also to participate in its sustainable technological development.”
Michaël Trabbia, Chief Technology & Information Officer (CTIO) at Orange, said: "Open RAN is the next major evolution of 5G RAN. Orange believes it is a strong opportunity for existing and emerging European actors to develop O-RAN based products and services, starting with indoor and rural areas. This evolution should be supported by a large European ecosystem (academics and research, software and hardware developers, integrators, public funding for R&D) as it is a unique occasion to reinforce the European competitiveness and leadership in the global market.”
“Open RAN is about network innovation, flexibility and faster rollout. Deutsche Telekom is committed to its promotion, development and adoption to ensure the best network experience for our customers. To seize this opportunity, it is critical that we join forces with our leading European partners to foster a diverse, competitive and secure 4G/5G ecosystem based on open RAN solutions”, said Claudia Nemat, Chief Technology Officer of Deutsche Telekom. “Through our open labs and community activities, we facilitate smaller players to enter the market with their solutions. To build on this foundational work, we urge government support and funding for community activities that will strengthen the European ecosystem and leadership in 5G.”
All four of the European MNOs signed and published an MoU relating to Open RAN in January 2021.
In November 2021, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia (TIM), Telefónica and Vodafone published a paper that describes the role that Europe and Open RAN will play in future networks, and highlights what they identify as "the urgent need for Europe to make Open RAN a strategic priority", using an analysis of the Open RAN value-chain and current players. The paper reveals important strengths and gaps that EU policymakers will need to consider and presents a set of policy recommendations for Europe to maintain a lead in the development and deployment of next generation mobile networks.
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