Vodafone details Open RAN ambitions; EC preps regulatory overhaul; Singtel launches NaaS for enterprises; DT teams up with AWS and VMware on global enterprise network; Huawei and du tie on 5G Advanced.
A week in telecoms: Vodafone advances Open RAN plan
Vodafone details Open RAN strategy
Vodafone strengthened its commitment to open RAN and revealed plans to start a commercial tender process for the disaggregated radio technology early next year.
Speaking at the Telecom Infra Project’s Fyuz event in Madrid this week, Santiago Tenorio, Director of Network Architecture at Vodafone, and Chairman of TIP, said the operator expects to issue a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for its 170,000 mobile sites across Europe and Africa with open RAN as a requirement for a large portion of the sites.
In its European footprint comprising 100,000 sites, Vodafone is aiming for 30% to be disaggregated. The operator has said that its current radio supply contracts end in 2025. The operator also flagged multiple open RAN trial and technology developments:
EC preps regulatory overhaul
Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, called for telecoms policy reform and said Europe needed a new “Digital Networks Act”, but he shied away from the “fair share” proposal that telcos have been lobbying for.
The EC published findings from a broad, exploratory consultation on the communications sector and infrastructure that was launched in February this year, the upshot of which is that change is needed.
“We will redefine the DNA of our telecoms regulation to facilitate market consolidation, cut costs and red tape for a fast deployment of technologies, attract more – and more private – capital, and secure our networks,” said Breton.
Telcos will likely be disappointed that the issue of whether digital players should make a “fair contribution” to network investment costs has not been resolved. The EC said the consultation findings were not conclusive on this matter.
Breton also appeared to downplay it. “Some have tried to reduce the issue of investment to a battle over the ‘fair share’ between Big Telco and Big Tech… But while finding a financing model for the huge investments needed is an important issue that we will need to deal with, so much more is at stake,” he said.
The GSMA and ETNO were quick to welcome Breton’s comments. The groups urged the Commission to speed the process to advance the Digital Networks Act and address the investment gap, “including the issue of a fair share through contribution from Large Traffic Generators.”
The Commission has estimated that around €200bn is needed to meet the EU’s Digital Decade targets of 5G and gigabit network coverage for everyone by 2030. But with just one year left in the current Commission’s term, any new telecoms legislation might have to wait until the next European Commission gets to work.
Singtel launches NaaS for enterprises
Singtel unveiled an on-demand Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) offering with a usage-based pricing model for enterprises, called CUBΣ. The solution is aimed at making it easier and more cost efficient for enterprises to manage and orchestrate their “edge-to-cloud” connectivity services, including from third-party providers.
From a single portal, users can control and dynamically scale up services, such as Singtel’s own LiquidX cloud-based network solution, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and managed network services as well as offerings from an ecosystem of partners.
The pricing model is designed to reduce upfront capex and save costs by enabling enterprises to pay only for what they need. The offering also features Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and predictive analytics tools to give users more insight into network use and proactive monitoring and management capabilities.
Consumption-based NaaS and platform-based SDN are “vital for digital transformation,” and Singtel’s new offering shows the operator’s “adaptability and commitment to meeting evolving enterprise needs,” according to Nikhil Batra, Research Director for Telecommunication at IDC Asia/Pacific. In IDC’s 2023 MarketScape for Asia/Pacific Communications Service Provider Secure Virtual Network Services, Singtel is ranked as a Leader.
DT teams up with AWS and VMware on global enterprise network
Deutsche Telekom joined forces with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and VMware to develop a “globally distributed enterprise network”, supported by the operator’s international networks, to connect geographically dispersed third-party connectivity, compute, and storage resources.
In a proof-of-concept test, the partners connected systems at campus locations in Prague, Czech Republic and Seattle, USA using an Open Grid Alliance (OGA) grid node in Bonn, Germany.
The global enterprise network integrates Deutsche Telekom private 5G wireless solutions, AWS services and infrastructure, VMware’s multi-cloud telco platform, OGA grid nodes and Mavenir’s RAN/core functions.
Kaniz Mahdi, Group Chief Architect and SVP Technology Architecture and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said multi-national enterprises “are seeking trusted and sovereign compute and connectivity constructs that underpin an equitable and seamless access.”
“As AI gets engrained deeper in the ecosystem of our lives, it necessitates equitable access to compute and connectivity for everyone, everywhere across the globe”, Mahdi added.
Huawei and du tie on 5G Advanced
UAE-based operator du joined forces with China-based equipment vendor Huawei for a demonstration of 5G Advanced technology, also sometimes dubbed 5.5G.
The two partners unveiled what they called a 5G Advanced (5G-A) demonstration Villa, where they will showcase smart home solutions underpinned by 10Gbps network speeds. They have already signed an MoU on 5.5G based on 5G-A technological innovation.
The aim is to particularly highlight how fixed wireless access (FWA) services can act as a gateway for further operator use cases within the home. As commented by Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du, FWA “has been a transformative catalyst, empowering us to deliver cutting-edge solutions to our valued customers.”
While first standards are to be included in 3GPP Release 18, the full scope of 5G Advanced is largely still to be defined and is expected to be included in Release 19 and beyond.
In a recent white paper from 5G Americas, Karri Kuoppamaki, SVP of Radio Network Technology and Strategy at T-Mobile USA, said Release 18 is expected to “bring additional technical enhancements in many areas including artificial intelligence and extended reality. The expected 5G-Advanced features will continue the progress of mobile communications and have a significant impact on future wireless networks.”
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating the proposed merger of Vodafone UK and Three UK and has invited comments on the transaction by November 1, 2023.
The NGMN Alliance (NGMN) published a paper titled Green Future Networks: Network Energy Efficiency Phase 2, and said this provides the industry with “key recommendations and a roadmap for reducing the energy consumption of mobile networks.”
Argentine telecommunications regulator Enacom reportedly announced it would conduct a 5G auction on 24 October.