Vodafone Idea rolls out 5G Open RAN pilot with Mavenir

Vodafone Idea rolls out 5G Open RAN pilot with Mavenir

Cloud-native network infrastructure vendor Mavenir announced on Friday it is in the advanced commercial phase of an Open RAN network pilot deployment for Indian telco Vodafone Idea (Vi) that will support its planned 5G rollout.

Mavenir said the project started in September 2023 and deployment is now underway. The Open RAN network pilot covers key launch sites and is currently carrying live commercial traffic ahead of a planned large-scale deployment.

Under the project, Mavenir is providing a complete, end-to-end cloud-native Open RAN system for Vodafone Idea. The solution includes a distributed unit (DU) solution based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and Mavenir’s OpenBeam Radios, centralized unit (CU), remote radio unit (RRU) and RAN software.

All of the software is running on Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat’s hybrid cloud application platform powered by Kubernetes, which Mavenir said is optimised for deployment in urban environments.

The pilot marks the first O-RAN-compliant deployment into Vodafone Idea’s network. While the official announcement doesn’t mention 5G, it does say the deployment is utilising the 3.5 GHz band, the 24.25-27.5 GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) bands, as well as the 2100-MHz band, to support a nonstandalone (NSA) architecture.

Last month, according to ETTelecom, Vodafone Idea CEO Akshaya Moondra told investors during a third quarter earnings call that Vi is in discussions with various technology partners to finalise its 5G rollout in July or August, which includes implementing vRAN and Open RAN technologies.

Rival telcos Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have completed their 5G rollouts already, but neither has deployed Open RAN technologies to date, having said in the past that the Open RAN ecosystem isn’t mature enough or cost-effective enough yet.

Commenting on Friday’s announcement, Vodafone Idea CTO Jagbir Singh said the Open RAN deployment with Mavenir “is in sync with our technology transformation roadmap and enriched vendor ecosystem. Working in partnership with […] Mavenir, we see a major role ahead for Open RAN technology in delivering the network enhanced capabilities, better TCO and open interfaces that will push the industry forward in new ways.”

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