First UK operator to switch on OpenRAN

Vodafone has become the first UK mobile operator to switch on a live Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) 4G site around Royal Welsh Showground enabling introduction of more suppliers for mobile networks.

The capabilities of the mobile site are hosted as software in the cloud, with readily-available, low-cost hardware at the site. Mavenir is supporting Vodafone with the deployment at the Royal Welsh Showground.

With the first OpenRAN site now live, Vodafone will work to identify communities across the UK where they can more economically introduce voice and high-speed data using the new technology.

Scott Petty, CTO, Vodafone UK said, “This is our first live OpenRAN site in the UK, and that’s an important milestone. This new approach has the ability to make us less dependent on current larger technology suppliers, and find ways to reduce the cost of rolling out mobile coverage. OpenRAN can also help close the digital divide between urban and rural Britain.”

Matt Warman, Digital Infrastructure Minister said, “OpenRAN gives mobile companies the flexibility to use multiple suppliers in their 4G and 5G networks. This is vital to help the market grow, build resilience and give people fast, reliable and secure internet connections wherever they live and work.

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport said, “It’s great to see the UK’s first OpenRAN site switched on here in Wales, and in a rural area. It will bring improved connectivity, not only for the showground but also for the wider community. It can only be of benefit to open up the network to more suppliers and I welcome this development.”

Steve Hughson, Chief Executive, Royal Welsh Agricultural Society said, “We have worked hard in recent years to improve the connectivity on site, in recognition of the need to provide a modern event venue where people can trade and communicate at speed. This site and further network improvements planned are key in our ambition of creating one of the best connected rural event sites in the UK.”

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