Vodafone claims Open RAN multi-vendor management breakthrough

In partnership with tech research outfit i2CAT Foundation, operator Vodafone is developing an automated multi-vendor management system for Open RAN.

Scott Bicheno

June 5, 2024

3 Min Read
source: vodafone

The whole point of Open RAN, of course, is that it enables the various hardware and software components of the RAN to be supplied by different vendors, as opposed to the traditional, monolithic paradigm. But one of the main advantages of getting a single vendor to do the lot is the resulting superior integration, which in turn presents a significant objection to Open RAN.

Vodafone has long been one of the most vociferous Open RAN cheerleaders among the world’s operators and has apparently taken on some of the responsibility for the technology, as well as the messaging. This breakthrough uses boring old vanilla AI to automate the process of making sure the various components of the RAN are interoperating properly, as well as to expedite the response to cyber threats.

“Vodafone’s partnership with i2CAT supports our aim to provide ultra-secure and reliable software-driven networks that can be upgraded or patched in an instant,” said Francisco Martin, Head of Open RAN at Vodafone. “It will enable us to automate more manual tasks associated with traditional networks to respond even faster to fluctuations in demand, manage energy consumption more effectively, launch new features quicker and keep ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape.”

“This partnership combines i2CAT's R&D expertise with Vodafone’s knowledge of new infrastructure deployment and its global reach, accelerating the creation and adoption of new solutions and products,” said Ana Moliner, i2CAT’s Director of Innovation Business Development for the Private Sector. “Together, we can explore new frontiers in digital connectivity, create new use cases in emerging sectors and contribute to society's advancement towards a more connected and innovative future.”

The release goes on to say the system will ultimately provide Vodafone with a unified multi-vendor dashboard to respond to and control Open RAN events. It will use machine learning techniques to analyse multi-vendor Open RAN network logs, which provide loads of information about what’s going on. The plan is to have other clever technologies then diagnose issues and fix them, ideally in as automated a way as possible.

"Vodafone’s collaboration with the i2CAT Foundation is a key indication of the direction the industry is taking, under the leadership of CSPs such as Vodafone, towards the evolution of telecommunications infrastructure—and not a moment too soon,” said Massimo Fatato, Head of Networks at NTT DATA UK&I, in an emailed statement.

“The development of an automated Open RAN management system is a fundamental component to fulfil Open RAN's promise of interoperability and flexibility in the access network. It will be a critical enabler as we move towards more dynamic and resilient network architectures. It will also aid Vodafone immensely in having 30% of its masts using Open RAN technology by 2030.”

All this alchemy is taking place at Vodafone’s innovation centre in Málaga, Spain (pictured), so progress may be hampered by the lure of the beach. Indeed, Vodafone hasn’t said when all this research will come to fruition, so it's at best a soft launch. Nonetheless, it’s good to see Open RAN proponents like Vodafone put their money where their mouth is and take a lead on trying to make it the panacea they clearly hope it will be.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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