Vodafone UK begins O-RAN deployment replacing Huawei gears

Vodafone UK has begun the installation of Open RAN (O-RAN) infrastructures in a move that will gradually replace old-generation Huawei gears. The operator said that currently, it’s started deploying O-RAN at 2,500 sites in Wales and in some areas in Southern England.

This project continuing in phases will remove the High-Risk Vendor (HRV) tech from the Radio Access Network (RAN) adhering to the government’s strict regulation from last year. To ensure quality and performance, the telco has made proof-of-concept deployments for the O-RAN technology, only after which, it has installed the infra at its network sites in rural areas. Currently, it has started larger deployment works in Torquay and Exmouth.  

The company says that the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) reflected that the O-RAN performance is better than the legacy Huawei gears in most areas. It now believes that the advanced technology will deliver better 4G and 5G experiences for the end-users.

Also read: Russia will quit 3G by 2030 and focus on next-gen technologies

Compatible with partners

To quash any curiosities about compatibility, Vodafone UK said that its O-RAN program is supported by its various partners such as Samsung, Intel, Keysight, Dell Technologies, Capgemini, and Wind River.

The UK is preparing for a 2G/3G shutdown and is focusing on bringing the latest enhancements to its telecom industry. But just like the US, it will start by replacing the Huawei infrastructure.

“The rapid innovation we have seen in the O-RAN ecosystem is truly remarkable. The industry only started working on this concept in 2016 in earnest, so to see KPIs align to traditional technology is a testament to the work that has been done,” stated Andrea Dona, chief network officer at Vodafone UK.

Likewise, John Whittingdale, Minister of State for Media and Data, Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology, said: “The U.K. government is determined to strengthen the security and resilience of vital network infrastructure by protecting technology critical to the future digital economy and boosting competition and creativity within the telecom supply chain.

The U.K. government in October 2022 extended the deadline for mobile network providers to replace their Huawei equipment and services in core network to December 31, 2023. The country plans to remove the Huawei footprint from its 5G networks by the end of 2027. At the same time, a ban is already in place that disallows operators from deploying any new Huawei gears in 5G network operation.  

Since 2020, the UK government has slapped an import ban on Huawei components however, the Chinese tech giant maintains that its gears pose no security challenge to any country.

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