Telefónica Takes Big Step to Fulfill Aggressive 5G Open RAN Vision

Telefónica is one of the world’s largest telecom and wireless operators with operations throughout Europe and Latin America. It is also one of the world’s most innovative companies operating by the motto “corporations face two options: Disrupt or be disrupted.”

One of the areas that the company is investing in heavily now is Open RAN. This week the company announced its next step in its aggressive roll out: an agreement with NEC to serve as the prime system integrator to implement and conduct trials of multi-vendor-based Open RAN solutions with the Telefónica group’s operating companies in four global markets. The scale of the agreement includes deployments in at least 800 sites for commercial use starting in 2022.

Already, Telefónica announced it had selected Altiostar as its RAN partner of choice. With NEC onboard, Telefónica has an experienced integration partner to look at installation and deployment services of the open RAN network across four countries, i.e. Brazil, Spain, UK and Germany.

Open RAN Coming to Brownfield Networks
This is an important announcement because Telefónica is the most aggressive open RAN adopter among brownfield carriers and are on a path to show the way forward for its peers.

The company is aware of its industry leadership and has published a white paper that details its plans to encourage a broader industry adoption. The whitepaper is titled “Telefónica’s views on the design, architecture, and technology in 4G/5G Open RAN networks” (PDF download) and is the company’s roadmap for its Open RAN deployment. In this whitepaper, Telefonica outlines the vendors as well as the technical details around how open RAN can be deployed for a brownfield operator.

Telefónica has worked with Altiostar closely on some of its early Open RAN deployments including Telefónica Deutschland, O2 (Telefónica UK), Movistar Argentina and Telefónica Colombia. These trials have successfully covered the gamut of network scenarios and they have fulfilled all Telefónica’s requirements. These include delivering “4G/5G essential features including massive MIMO, dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), NB-IoT or RAN sharing, while complying with an extensive list of key performance indicators (KPIs) aimed to verify that performance is on par with traditional RAN.”

Telefónica’s commitment to Open RAN is made real by its selection of NEC to integrate the next phase of its network roll out. The operator has publicly stated its intention to have Open RAN account for up to 50% of its RAN growth between 2022 and 2025. This aggressive roadmap highlights the company’s leadership in creating a next-generation network that supports the full complement of 5G services with an infrastructure that is agile and cost effective. We are looking forward to playing a role in making the Telefónica Open RAN network a reality.

About The Author
Shabbir Bagasrawala Head of GTM, Altiostar