Telecom Italia expands O-RAN footprint in Italy

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Italian operator Telecom Italia (TIM) announced the activations of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) systems in the cities of Matera and Turin following its first use of the technology in Faenza earlier this year.

The European operator said the aim is to accelerate the development of 5G digital services and edge computing through the use of centralized and cloud-based infrastructure on its mobile network across Italy.

TIM also claimed to be the only operator in Italy to have already undertaken a major infrastructural initiative to promote the ‘open network’ model.

The telco said that the solution was activated in Matera, thanks to collaboration with Mavenir for RAN components and MTI for its 4G Radio Unit. This solution, in cooperation also with Dell Technologies, Intel and VMware, allows to separate the hardware and software of the radio access network with a view to diversifying suppliers and promoting a broader ecosystem within the industry.

Furthermore, the first Open RAN 5G Standalone connection was established at the TIM Innovation Lab in Turin and will soon also be activated in the field in Matera. This achievement made use of the 3.7 GHz frequencies on TIM’s 5G network, in collaboration with Mavenir for core network and radio functionality, Dell Technologies and Intel for infrastructure and VMware Telco Cloud Platform for the End-to-End network function virtualization and automation software.

Earlier this eyar, TIM had launched an Open Test and Integration Center (OTIC), a lab dedicated to testing Open RAN solutions.

The new “TIM European OTIC Lab”, approved by the O-RAN Alliance, will be based at the TIM Group’s Innovation laboratories in Turin.

The new facility will operate in synergy with the entire Open RAN ecosystem-equipment providers, start-ups and system integrators, to test new solutions and accelerate the deployment of this technology for the new pan-European mobile network architecture based on 5G, Cloud and Edge Computing, TIM said.

The TIM European OTIC Lab “promotes the opening of the O-RAN ecosystem by developing implementations and solutions, by testing and verifying the compliance of RAN equipment (antennas, radio base stations, etc.) from individual or different suppliers with the specifications of the O-RAN interfaces and by providing technical results to the community on the experiences gained during testing,” the operator noted.

TIM has been a member of the O-RAN Alliance since 2018 and last February, the telco signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a number of European operators to promote Open RAN solutions.

In January, European operators Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone had joined forces to support the rollout of O-RAN in future mobile networks across Europe.

The four carriers signed a memorandum of understanding in which they have expressed their individual commitment to the implementation and deployment of Open RAN solutions.

The operators said they will also work together with existing and new ecosystem partners, industry bodies like the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), as well as European policy makers, to ensure Open RAN quickly reaches competitive parity with traditional RAN solutions.

In traditional RAN, the networks are deployed using fully-integrated cell sites, where the radios, hardware and software are provided by a single supplier as a closed proprietary solution. With Open RAN the industry is working towards standards and technical specifications that define open interfaces within the radio system, including hardware and software, so that networks can be deployed and operated based on mix-and-match components from different suppliers.

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