O2 Germany switches on its first Samsung-powered Open RAN site

Telefónica's O2 Germany unit has reached a new milestone on its journey towards flexible, disaggregated mobile network architecture.

Nick Wood

May 2, 2024

2 Min Read

Together with Samsung, it has switched on its first commercial virtualised RAN (vRAN) and Open RAN site, delivering 4G and 5G coverage to end users in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria. Samsung claims this is the first live deployment of its kind in Germany.

The site uses Samsung's 4G and 5G vRAN 3.0 software – which come with various energy efficiency and intelligent automation features – and its Open RAN compliant radios. These support low and mid-band frequencies (700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.6 GHz), and come with 64T64R massive MIMO antennas.

In the coming months, O2 plans to extend its vRAN and Open RAN footprint to seven additional sites in the region. The next step of the journey will also herald the introduction of Samsung's intelligent network automation solutions, which handle life cycle management – from deployment and operation, to maintenance. The goal with this is to accelerate cloud-native network rollouts by automating the deployment of thousands of sites simultaneously.

"We are proud to be the key partner for O2 Telefónica on their trailblazing journey to usher in a new era of connectivity in Germany," said Junehee Lee, EVP and head of global sales and marketing at Samsung's Networks Business.

The launch is the culmination of a partnership established by Telefónica and Samsung last October, and follows lab-based trials in Munich. In addition to Samsung, those trials also made use of servers from Dell, silicon from Intel, and a cloud platform from Wind River. While this latest announcement doesn't mention these other suppliers, it would be strange if their involvement started and finished in the lab.

Germany is something of a hotbed of activity when it comes to Open RAN.

Last year incumbent Deutsche Telekom began rolling out Open RAN infrastructure using kit from Nokia and Fujitsu, following an MoU agreed last February.

Vodafone Germany has also been busy, having launched commercial Open RAN pilots with Samsung in October 2022.

Then of course there is newcomer 1&1, which together with Mavenir and Rakuten Symphony switched on its first three Open RAN sites early last year as part of its greenfield 5G network deployment. It followed that up with a more fulsome commercial launch last December.

As for Telefónica, in addition to its work with Samsung, in 2022 it tried out Open RAN-based small cells in partnership with NEC, Airspan, and Rakuten Symphony. It's not clear if that effort is still underway, or if Telefónica is only working with Samsung now.

"We are taking another big step in our Open RAN journey," said Mallik Rao, O2 Germany's chief technology and information officer, this week.

"On the way to the network of the future, we are integrating new network solutions to provide our customers with outstanding connectivity," he said. "Open RAN is a building block that can help us to automate our network, deploy new updates faster and use network components more flexibly."

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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