A World-First
Three UK Open RAN Small Cell Trial for High Density Coverage


At Mavenir, we are committed to building the future of networks, so I was delighted to join our UK network operator customer Three UK in Glasgow, Scotland, for the world-first launch of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) small cells deployment in a densely populated urban environment – demonstrating the potential of Open RAN in high traffic, high density complex areas.

The Glasgow deployment is the first deployment in the UK Government’s innovative SCONDA – Small Cells ORAN in Dense Areas – project, underpinning its ambition to carry 35% of the UK’s network traffic over open and interoperable RAN architecture by 2030. Mavenir is a member of the SCONDA consortium chosen to deliver this world-first project, designed to address the unique technical and commercial challenges of high-density demand areas.

Why Small Cells? As such radios can be placed on existing street furniture and all processing capacity doesn’t have to be onsite but deployed in datacenters which is one of the main advantages of the distributed architecture of Open RAN. Radios units can be put from bus shelters to CCTV cameras, with low power needs and low energy costs ensuring minimal environmental impact, both visual and in terms of carbon emissions. Three UK has identified that 30% of the city of Glasgow has congested sites – defined as sites that deliver less than 5Mbps – so small cells can quickly address this congestion and ensure Three UK delivers the best possible service to its customers.

Why Mavenir? Well, it’s always more powerful coming from a customer, so here’s what Iain Milligan, Chief Network Officer at Three UK said: ‘Mavenir have got their own supply chain in terms of a mixture of different hardware components and software aspects… it’s not just ‘this is our box, take our box’, it’s actually ‘what works best for you?’ This product, this solution, this software… and they are then playing the part of developing and tuning the software to make that work together for us. So for me, that’s very different than ‘here’s our standard list of boxes, it’s all one vendor, take that one at that price.’ So, it gives us the variability really more than anything else, which determines the price as well.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the true spirit of Open RAN, and the future of networks. Single vendor lock-in is being firmly consigned to history.

There will be 51 small cells deployed in Glasgow city centre, this first phase is 20 sites. As ORAN vendor, we are working with Boldyn who are providing infrastructure assets and fibre connectivity. PI Works will provide the automation later this year, with Accenture carrying out performance measurements before and after deployment. It’s a great partnership delivering true innovation. The project is due for completion Q1 2025.

Supporting material:
Three UK LinkedIn Post

Open RAN
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