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Telekom Switches on O-RAN Town in Neubrandenburg

  • Europe’s first open RAN deployment with Massive MIMO radio units for high performance
  • Multi-vendor open RAN is set to increase flexibility and enable a more customer-focused network of the future
  • Vendor independent service management & orchestration (SMO) framework for efficient network automation

Deutsche Telekom has switched on its ‘O-RAN Town’ deployment in Neubrandenburg, Germany. O-RAN Town is a multi-vendor open RAN network that will deliver open RAN based 4G and 5G services across up to 25 sites. The first sites are now deployed and integrated into the live network of Telekom Germany. This includes Europe’s first integration of massive MIMO (mMIMO) radio units using O-RAN open fronthaul interfaces to connect to the virtualized RAN software.

Claudia Nemat, Board Member, Technology & Innovation, Deutsche Telekom: “Open RAN is about increasing flexibility, choice and reinvigorating our industry to bring in innovation for the benefit our customers. Switching on our O-RAN Town including massive MIMO is a pivotal moment on our journey to drive the development of open RAN as a competitive solution for macro deployment at scale.  This is just the start. We will expand O-RAN Town over time with a diverse set of supplier partners to further develop our operational experience of high-performance multi-vendor open RAN.”

Independent Management Framework Introduces Automation Capabilities

Deutsche Telekom has pioneered open RAN since it co-founded the xRAN Forum in 2016, which led to the formation of the telco-led O-RAN ALLIANCE in 2018. Open RAN introduces supplier diversity to drive innovation and it is expected to lead to a more flexible, secure, energy efficient and customer-centric network of the future.

As the hardware and software components in a multi-vendor open RAN are coming from different vendors, the integration, testing and the lifecycle management of components is challenging. Automation is a ‘must have’ to manage this complexity and realize operational efficiencies expected from open RAN.  Addressing this challenge, Deutsche Telekom has developed and introduced a vendor-independent Service Management and Orchestration (SMO), using ONAP open source as the foundation, for service automation across all network domains. Deutsche Telekom is developing the SMO to be the center piece for full life-cycle management (LCM) of all O-RAN components.

At O-RAN Town, Deutsche Telekom is exploring, constantly enhancing and verifying the end to end capabilities of the SMO, including for automated testing, remote site configuration, as well as anomaly detection and resolution and performance optimization.

“Another key goal with open RAN is to benefit from automation. In the near future, we can more flexibly add new network features, resolve traffic issues or intelligently reduce power consumption,” says Claudia Nemat. “Through our independent management framework, we are getting operational experience of utilizing automation to address the integration challenge, complexity and improving outcomes in a truly multi-vendor open RAN system,” says Claudia Nemat.

“As a vibrant and competitive open RAN ecosystem emerges, we will benefit from the flexibility to select and integrate vendor components with features that best fit our needs and the needs of our customers.”

O-RAN Town Expansion – Further Partnerships

The first live sites at O-RAN Town are built on a truly multi-vendor open RAN architecture with equipment from vendor partners Dell, Fujitsu, Intel, Mavenir, NEC and Supermicro. The remote radio units (O-RU) are provided by Fujitsu and NEC, including Fujitsu’s LTE and 5G NR O-RUs  and NEC’s 32T32R 5G massive MIMO (mMIMO) radio units (RU) conforming to O-RAN Alliance fronthaul specifications, embedded with advanced beamforming technologies. Mavenir provides the Cloud-Native baseband software for the 4G and 5G distributed units (O-DU) and central units (O-CU), including for the mMIMO radio units.  The virtualized baseband software is running on standard server hardware provided by Dell and Supermicro. The entire O-RAN Cloud architecture is built on top of the Intel FlexRAN software architecture.

Deutsche Telekom plans to expand O-RAN Town in phases across 2021 and 2022, working with different sets of vendors. These solutions are currently being tested in the lab to ensure interoperability across all components. The vendor-independent SMO is designed and developed to support a flexible integration and operation of these components with higher efficiency and with faster time-to-market.

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