By Kevin Dallas, Wind River President & CEO
Wind River is thrilled and honored to be selected by Vodafone for their efforts to build Europe’s first commercial Open Radio Access Network (RAN), which will be one of the largest in the world. Vodafone believes this will spark other large-scale Open RAN launches and spearhead the next wave of digital transformation across Europe. Specifically, Wind River Studio will serve as the cloud infrastructure technology providing a distributed cloud-native platform hosting the Open RAN applications for Vodafone’s next generation Open RAN.
Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. Its purpose is to “connect for a better future” and its expertise and scale gives them a unique opportunity to drive positive change for society. As of 31 March 2021, they had over 300M mobile customers, more than 28M fixed broadband customers, over 22M TV customers and have connected more than 123M IoT devices.
A Distributed RAN to Advance Future 5G Success
To effectively capture business opportunities with new 5G services such as AR/VR and immersive experiences, operators need scalability, low latency, high performance, and capacity, as well as new operational models. Therefore, a critical area of investment will be the RAN as data must be processed with ultra-low latency near the customer in order to deliver 5G services.
This truly relies on the value of the Open RAN architecture, which is designed to increase flexibility, agility, speed of rollout, and help to reduce costs by using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and new innovative containerized and open solutions. Open RAN is the foundational principle of open interfaces and product interoperability based on initiatives from the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and O-RAN Alliance.
Vodafone has notably been a leading operator in Open RAN and its latest commitment to the technology has been one of the biggest in the industry. Vodafone UK now plans to deploy Open RAN in a major commitment to use this technology to both replace a large portion of the operator’s legacy equipment and to diversify the supply chain with the introduction of new technologies and new vendors.
A key reason Vodafone selected Wind River was based on the fact that we are the only field experienced disaggregated cloud infrastructure supplier based on our work where we are deploying our Wind River Studio technology at scale in the US market with Verizon, and where we played an instrumental role in the world's first successful end-to-end virtualized 5G data session. Together with an ecosystem of partner companies, we will validate and define the commercial blueprint for Vodafone’s future network deployment.
Vodafone and Wind River ORAN Validation Activities
The Vodafone Open RAN blueprint is now under validation and targeted to be deployed from 2021. It is going to be a fully containerized Single RAN (2G, 4G and 5G) base station that places the real-time baseband processing in the cloud at the far edge of the network, close to the radio. As well as handling even the most extreme low latency requirements, real-time processing at the network edge can be scaled to meet changing demand. Vodafone’s plan is to use OpenRAN to more cost-effectively extend 2G and 4G+ for the additional coverage and capacity of 5G, with the aim to be more flexible, innovative and cost effective, as well as to open up for new suppliers to support mobile networks.
The Vodafone Open RAN solution is distributed RAN (DRAN) with a co-located Distributed and Centralized Unit (DU/CU) on the radio site, which will provide scalability, low latency, high performance and capacity. This containerized DRAN solution has been successfully tested with Wind River Studio.
Francisco (Paco) Martin, Group Head of Open RAN and Radio Network at Vodafone shared, “We are delighted to work with Wind River on this important milestone for the first Open RAN commercial deployment in Europe. The introduction of this new solution will enable us to introduce new suppliers, such as Wind River, giving us greater flexibility when extending our mobile network. We’re proud to be pioneering the development of Open RAN and will be monitoring the performance of this blueprint solution.”
Wind River Studio is the industry’s first cloud-native platform for the development, deployment, operations, and servicing of mission-critical intelligent systems where security, safety, and reliability are required. Studio is architected to deliver digital scale across the full lifecycle through a single pane of glass to accelerate transformative business outcomes.
Starting with StarlingX, the open source distributed cloud, Studio provides a production-grade Kubernetes cloud platform that runs on a very small footprint for managing edge cloud infrastructure. Studio compiles best-in-class open-source technology to deploy and manage distributed networks.
Once a distributed cloud such as cloud RAN is deployed, Studio supports effective management of a distributed cloud system by consuming and processing data through machine-learning algorithms, to produce meaningful insights for decision-making. With full stack monitoring of the cloud infrastructure cluster and services, Studio collects, analyzes, and visualizes cloud behavioral data so you can keep your cloud up and optimized while reducing operational costs.
We look forward to working in close collaboration with Vodafone to accelerate and innovate Open RAN, as well as advance openness and ecosystem diversity.
For more information about Wind River Studio visit: https://www.windriver.com/studio.