News | 21 Feb 2024

Massive MIMO milestone: OpenRAN mast upgrade is first of many

The upgrade of a Vodafone OpenRAN mast in Devon demonstrates not only the maturity of the technology, but also the unique benefits of its ‘pick and mix’ design.

Vodafone has upgraded an OpenRAN mast in Devon with Massive MIMO antennas. The newly upgraded mast will not only be able to provide many more people and devices with mobile signal. It also shows one of the advantages of OpenRAN technology – the ability to mix and match components from multiple vendors, then upgrade individual components over time to better meet the public’s usage patterns.

The 5G OpenRAN mast in Devon now has Massive MIMO antennas from NEC alongside its pre-existing Samsung software. With 64 transmit and 64 receive antennas, the mast can transfer more data from more devices simultaneously than a mast without Massive MIMO. All OpenRAN components have to meet interoperability specifications, before installation in the field, and demonstrated as such at Vodafone’s OpenRAN Test and Integration Lab in Newbury.

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After testing and optimising the newly upgraded mast, Vodafone will use the same configuration on other OpenRAN masts to handle higher levels of mobile data traffic. Vodafone is currently rolling out OpenRAN mast technology to 2,500 sites across Wales and the south west of England.

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Massive MIMO is the cherry on top of any 5G installation. It dramatically improves the efficiency of the site, and as a result, provides an enhanced mobile experience for our customers.

This is interchangeability and interoperability in action

“This is an exciting development because it proves the benefits of OpenRAN. Here, we have replaced a component of a live mobile site with one from a different vendor, without operational complications, and it is running on software from Samsung. This is interchangeability and interoperability in action.”

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Vodafone begins volume deployment of OpenRAN for 2,500 sites across Wales and south west England

OpenRAN to provide much needed diversity to the telecommunications supply chain to act as a catalyst for innovation and to offer new opportunities for specialist providers across the technology ecosystem.