Verizon deploys 130,000 O-RAN capable radios in network

Second big commitment to open radio access network technology from a major US operator within a couple of months indicates a ‘significant industry shift’ in momentum for open networking

As it continues its commitment to make a massive, multi-year enhancement of its network architecture that consolidates, simplifies, and modernises its core and access networks, in particular through virtualised and open radio access network (RAN) technologies, communications giant Verizon has now deployed more than 130,000 capable radios complying with the O-RAN standard.

Verizon sees O-RAN-compliant technologies as offering the promise of a wide range of benefits that should introduce new competition and innovation into the RAN ecosystem, with the establishment of open and interoperable interfaces between different hardware and software. Virtualisation and orchestration are seen as key components of the network modernisation. 

Early in 2019, Verizon announced the virtualisation of the core network with a cloud-native, containerised architecture. In 2020, it completed fully virtualised baseband functions on the radio access network acting as a foundation for deployment flexibility, scaling and rapid integration of services for existing and new use cases.

The operator believes that the move to a cloud-native, container-based, virtualised architecture has led to more flexibility, faster delivery of services, greater scalability and significant cost efficiency in the network.

It is confident that the transition to Open RAN has the potential to bring many benefits in terms of deployment flexibility, faster innovation in an open environment, and greater service options by increasing the opportunity for new entrants to provide competitive and advanced solutions. More competition, increased innovation, and additional supplier diversity will all be net benefits to operators and customers.

The new deployment and addition of more O-RAN capable equipment is seen by Verizon as underscoring its commitment to driving O-RAN standards and technology in the industry. The deployment includes massive MIMO radios as part of a previously announced 15,000 O-RAN compliant virtualised cell sites with O-RAN-compliant baseband units in its commercial radio access network.

“Verizon is fully supportive of O-RAN technology and is focused on commercialising an operationally sound O-RAN architecture,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice-president of technology planning at Verizon commenting on the launch.

 “Our commitment to developing O-RAN standards and to deploying compliant equipment in our active radio access network is helping to drive the industry forward, which will result in a variety of tangible benefits for our customers who expect leading-edge technology.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the broader communications industry, with Kristian Toivo, executive director of Telecom Infra Project, saying: “This news marks the second big commitment to OpenRAN from a major US operator within a couple of months – indicating the significant industry shift in momentum for open networking.

“The biggest operators worldwide are increasingly pledging to break away from the traditional approach to building networks, in favour of greater choice and the move to open, cloud-native networks. This comes at a time when operators are looking to scale out 5G and make a return on their investments.

“By committing to ‘open’ principles, operators can disaggregate and put software innovation at the heart of their 5G networks. Through enabling multi-vendor solutions, this will lower network build-out costs over time and open up new opportunities for revenue generation, with savings passed on to the consumer.”

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