Mavenir takes 5G packet core, Open RAN tech to operators in Portugal, India

Network software provider becomes Vodafone’s strategic 5G Core supplier in Portugal, enabling speeds of more than 1 Gbps in 5G Non-Standalone configuration based on Open RAN

In a pair of deals highlighting exactly how the telecoms technology industry is changing, and the changing priorities of operators, network software provider Mavenir has sealed deals with Vodafone Portugal to be its strategic 5G Converged Core supplier to deliver cloud-native software, and has conducted what is said to be India’s first successful Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) based live 5G network validation.

Vodafone Portugal will be using the Mavenir MAVcore service for its fully containerised Converged Packet Core network. The operator currently serves 3.6 million homes and businesses with its next generation network and has more than 4.6 million mobile customers.

The MAVcore family includes Mavenir’s Converged Packet Core and Policy Control offering, delivering a next-generation modernised data network. The MAVcore service is designed to allow the transformation to a containerised and automated cloud-native network – providing the flexibility for future mobile network evolution, including the launch of what Mavenir has said will be “disruptive and innovative” 5G standalone applications for Vodafone customers in Portugal.

The 5G Converged Packet Core offering is designed with cloud-native containerised techniques, providing a scalable and virtualised network architecture. It uses software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to provide cost-effectiveness, flexibility and agility.

“The industry defines several steps for 5G – the first one was launched back in November – but it is the second step, the 5G Standalone Core, that brings the more powerful technology revolution in terms of use cases, said Vodafone Portugal network director Paulino Correa.

“For our strategic 5G Standalone Core supplier, we wanted a vendor who would have innovation at its heart and equally provide us with a technically leading converged Packet Core solution,” he said. “We have been working on 5G SA with Mavenir in our lab for over one year and are now ready to deliver a cloud-native Packet Core platform that will transform our network and prepare it for powerful applications and differentiating use cases as the 5G solution evolves.”

The evolution of 5G in India saw an Open RAN based 5G validation test conducted in Chandigarh and Mohali, over the 3500 MHz band test spectrum allotted to Airtel by the Department of Telecom, Government of India.

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Airtel is a global communications services provider with more than 480 million customers in 16 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks among the top three mobile operators globally, and its networks cover more than two billion people. It also claims to be India’s largest integrated communications services provider and the second-largest mobile operator in Africa.

Speeds of over 1 Gbps were validated with the equipment deployed and configured in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode and using commercially available 5G mobile devices. The Mavenir Open Virtualised Radio Access Network (Open vRAN) offering is based on commercial off-the-shelf hardware, and 3500MHz radio employing open interfaces as defined by O-RAN Alliance.

Open vRAN brings network elasticity, eliminates supplier lock-in and enables Airtel to leverage virtualisation, as well as web-scale containerisation to support an “any cloud” deployment scenario.

A founding member of the O-RAN Alliance, Airtel was the first operator in India to commercially deploy an open virtual RAN offering based on disaggregated and open architecture defined by the O-RAN Alliance. It is committed to furthering open RAN services by supporting a number of disruptive and innovative partners, helping them to develop offerings capable of addressing the scale and complexity of its network and that of other established operators around the world.

Bharti Airtel chief technology officer Randeep Sekhon said: “This is a major milestone for the Open RAN ecosystem in India, and yet another validation of the growing readiness of 5G networks based on open architecture. Airtel is delighted to spearhead the innovation efforts of O-RAN Alliance in India. We look forward to deepening our technology partnership with Mavenir and collaborating to accelerate the deployment of these radio access networks.”

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