KTL partners with Vodafone on innovative OpenRAN 5G deployment in Devon
KTL and Vodafone, assisted by Hutchison Engineering, successfully integrated the first 5G Massive MiMo Open RAN site in Devon. This marks a major milestone for Vodafone in the deployment of OpenRAN (Radio Access Network) technology providing 4G and 5G coverage to its consumer and business customers in the region.
This OpenRAN deployment in Devon, part of Vodafone's "Golden Cluster" project, covers one of 16 macro cell sites for the Exmouth and Torquay regions. The “Golden Cluster” deployment began in December 2022, with Vodafone becoming the first telecoms operator in the UK to utilise the technology in an urban scenario to carry live customer data. Vodafone has been working within the industry for the last several years to ensure that OpenRAN is a viable alternative to traditional technologies in building mobile masts.
OpenRAN is a rapidly evolving technology that promotes greater interoperability and vendor diversity in the design and deployment of digital networks. This technology standardises interfaces and uses modular hardware and software components that can be sourced from multiple vendors, reducing dependence on a single vendor for all components of the network and encouraging accelerated innovation. This is a critical component of Vodafone’s network strategy due to its long-term potential. This will permit Vodafone greater flexibility in how it builds its network, alongside working with innovative suppliers who can offer fresh ideas that would not have been previously available, as well as becoming a vehicle to digital transformation for its own operations.
Vodafone, in collaboration with Dell, Intel, Samsung, Wind River, and Capgemini, is a pioneer in OpenRAN in Europe and plans to deploy at least 2,500 sites in the UK. Across the Group, Vodafone will aim to deliver OpenRAN across 30% of the European network by 2030.
This new installation in Devon was the first “bare metal” OpenRAN site for Vodafone, said Dom Mackinnon, Technical Manager KTL, “Massive MiMo units utilising the N78 band for 5G and are attached to an Apollo structure with Samsung’s RRU’s at the ground level. This is a cost-effective approach for deploying OpenRAN on site, utilising some of the existing infrastructure.”
Mackinnon added, “We are a trusted partner to Vodafone and our role on this project was site designers and solution engineers. We were responsible for completing the build and integration on this site.
“It’s fantastic to be at the forefront of OpenRAN design and delivery”.
“While installing the new Samsung and Dell equipment remotely, KTL engineers worked closely with the Vodafone ORAN team and assisted the integration process to ensure optimum installation. KTL engineers completed validation testing when all technologies were commissioned.”
In Torquay and Exeter OpenRAN was tested against a variety of business and consumer use cases. OpenRAN outperformed traditional masts in call success rates, as well as in download and upload speeds across multiple spectrum frequencies.1 Vodafone completed the testing phases of its OpenRAN programme and is now installing the technology throughout their network in Southwest England and Wales.
KTL worked closely with Vodafone's technical team, aided by Hutchinson Engineering a precision engineering company that specialise in metal manufacturing. They designed and manufactured the 4-section Apollo, assembling it at the site location. It was then installed by KTL.
Ciaran Murphy, Director KTL commented, “The team displayed impressive resilience and competence by finding solutions to each challenge with confidence, resulting in a successful installation and solidifying KTL’s reputation as a reliable and skilled partner.”
"We are proud to be part of this exciting initiative and the productive installation of this site in Devon and look forward to working on future sites.”
This latest development is a significant step towards the success of OpenRAN for Vodafone and its customers.
James Grayling, OpenRAN Integration Manager, Vodafone UK, said, “OpenRAN is a truly exciting development, and a central pillar of Vodafone’s wider network strategy. It is a complex technology to deploy and optimise, but with the help and adaptability of partners like KTL we are well on track to deliver this truly transformative technology at scale.”
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