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KTL builds United Kingdom’s 1st commercial 5G Open RAN macro site for Vodafone

In November 2020, Vodafone unveiled its commitment to deliver the first commercial deployment of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Europe, with equipment to be replaced on 2,500 sites across the South West of England, and South Wales. This is the largest deployment of Open RAN in Europe, with Vodafone working alongside the likes of Dell, NEC, Samsung and Wind River.

Open RAN will encourage a more diverse vendor ecosystem, with telecoms equipment designed to be interoperable with vendor-agnostic specifications. This interoperability between different components on the Radio Access Network will lower the barrier for entry, as telecoms operators no longer have to procure end-to-end solutions from single vendors. More vendors in the telecom’s ecosystem will act as a catalyst for more cost-effective, secure, energy-efficient, and customer-focused networks of the future.

KTL’s role for Vodafone was to extend 4G and 5G coverage to a first-of-its-kind Open RAN site in South-West England - one of 2500 macro sites planned for the UK.

The work was complex and encompassed on-site instruction post-design, as well as clearing the site and adding new Samsung radios and equipment. There were new feeders, fibres, and power cables installed from the top of the tower to the equipment cabin. This included external banding of the structure, new cable entry, new rack installation and AC/DC power management.

Legacy antennas were removed, and new antennas installed – a new RET system was implemented, which involved a reconfiguration of the legacy equipment. In addition, KTL provided a special on-site service over a two-week period to rapidly resolve any issues.

Dom Mackinnon, KTL Technical Manager said, “It has been a pleasure to work with everyone involved to deliver the first Open RAN site in the UK. We collaborated closely over several months with both the equipment vendor Samsung and Vodafone’s full Open RAN team to ensure we delivered this project efficiently.

Mackinnon added, “This build demonstrates KTL’s capability to build a non-standard site - a proof of concept. Open RAN will give MNO’s versatility, to move away from the constraints of the vendor model, giving them the ability to change elements or software quickly.”

“There are fundamental learnings taken from successfully delivering on this site for Vodafone. We now understand and know what is involved in Vodafone having multiple equipment vendors on the same site – this knowledge we can apply to help simplify future builds and add value to phase two.”

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Open RAN is not just a new technology, but a new way of conceptualising, building, and managing telecommunications networks. As this is the first time Open RAN is being deployed at scale, we’re all learning as we move forward together; others in the industry will look to Vodafone to help understand the complexity of this new technology and how to realise its’ full potential. It is critical we work with partners who not only align to our mentality, but also demonstrate flexibility and agility to transition as we break new ground. We could not be happier with the support provided by KTL.”

To find out more about KTL services, click here.

Image: credit of Vodafone


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