Press Release | 06 Dec 2022

Vodafone deploys OpenRAN in urban locations in European first

OpenRAN masts in Exmouth and Torquay will be delivered thanks to Vodafone's partnerships with Dell, Intel, Samsung, Wind River, and Capgemini.

  • Vodafone takes another step forward in OpenRAN development strategy with live deployments on masts delivering coverage in Exmouth and Torquay.
  • This is the first example in Europe of the exciting technology being deployed in a live urban environment.
  • OpenRAN is a critical component of the Vodafone network strategy, diversifying the supply chain, enhancing resilience and acting as a catalyst for innovation and competition.
  • Vodafone has leveraged partnerships with Dell, Intel, Samsung, Wind River, and Capgemini.

Vodafone has begun the latest phase of its OpenRAN deployment strategy to install the exciting technology on 16 mobile masts providing connectivity to customers in Exmouth and Torquay. The roll-out, which will take place over the next three months, will be the first time in Europe that OpenRAN will have been deployed in an urban environment, providing live connectivity services to all consumer and business customers. To date, OpenRAN deployments have focused on more rural locations.

Vodafone has been working alongside the industry to advance OpenRAN technology, such as through its two OpenRAN Research and Development centres in Newbury and Malaga. This has enabled deployments in more complex environments (such as urban locations and transport hubs).

Vodafone investment in South West to bring benefits to local communities, businesses and visitors

Beachfront and rural locations in Cornwall are among the first in the UK to benefit from new OpenRAN 4G technology.

Deployment of OpenRAN in an urban location demonstrates that the technology is a viable alternative to traditional RAN in all scenarios, not just in rural locations. And with interoperability embedded at the foundation, OpenRAN is a driver of innovation, enabling Vodafone to work with businesses outside the traditional telecommunications ecosystem.

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK, said: “Vodafone was one of the first companies worldwide to commit to OpenRAN at scale. The potential of OpenRAN is huge and clear to see. But to realise this potential, we need to deploy the technology out in the live network and take it from rural to urban locations.

“This is what we have now done – taking lab innovations into the real world and an essential step forward for the health and resilience of our industry.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Vodafone’s use of OpenRAN in Devon is the first of its kind in Europe, proving once again that the UK is a leader in innovative solutions for mobile connectivity.

“We encourage other providers to roll out OpenRAN in urban areas and continue to support a more diverse, innovative and resilient telecoms supply chain through our £250m investment programme.”

OpenRAN is a critical component of Vodafone’s wider network strategy. Not only can OpenRAN lower the barrier for entry for alternative suppliers to add greater resilience and diversity to Vodafone’s supply chain, but this additional competition will also act as a catalyst for innovation, allowing suppliers to specialise in niche areas as opposed to providing “turnkey” solutions.

By decoupling different components of the mobile site from each other through interoperability specifications, Vodafone can work with innovators it would otherwise not have been able to. This flexibility will mean the introduction of new technology and software to increase the energy efficiency of operations, the ability to introduce new specialist services, and will allow Vodafone to prioritise investments in new ways as upgrade paths of hardware and software components are no longer intrinsically linked.

OpenRAN is the future of 4G – and Vodafone is making it happen

Vodafone is leading a quiet revolution in the way 4G mobile phone networks are built and run. We explain what OpenRAN is and why it matters.

As part of this latest deployment, Vodafone worked with Dell, Intel, Samsung, Wind River, and Capgemini, demonstrating the breadth and depth OpenRAN enables in the telecommunications supply chain.

At Mobile World Congress 2022, Vodafone committed to deploying OpenRAN on 30% of mobile sites across its European network by 2030.  More recently, Vodafone began OpenRAN trials in Germany, as well as signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NTT Docomo. A partnership has also been signed with Nokia to jointly develop a fully OpenRAN compliant solution that incorporates Nokia’s ReefShark system on a chip (SoC).

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Notes to Editors

What is OpenRAN?

OpenRAN is a technology concept that aims to create Radio Access Network (RAN) technology where the hardware and software components are not intrinsically linked. In today’s network, RAN equipment is proprietary, meaning hardware and software components are generally bought from the same vendor to ensure the network functions effectively, securely and efficiently.

The concept of OpenRAN is to introduce a set of standards for the creation of both hardware and software components of the RAN that are ‘open’. This means each element of the network would be interoperable, allowing any piece of hardware to work with any software program and vice versa.

The biggest advantage of OpenRAN is that it allows companies to specialise in as many elements of the ecosystem as they choose to. Whereas telecoms operators are limited to the number of vendors that exist today, because they have to be competent in all areas, in the future more vendors will exist.

What does OpenRAN mean to Vodafone?

OpenRAN is a critical component of the long-term network innovation strategy for Vodafone for several different reasons:

  • Vendor diversity: the disaggregation of hardware and software components of the network lowers the barrier to entry for new suppliers, enabling Vodafone to add greater resilience to its supply chain by working with a greater number, and more diverse pool, of suppliers.
  • Catalyst for innovation: competition breeds innovation.
  • Opportunity for niche/specialist suppliers: bringing down the barriers to entry allows Vodafone to work with more specialist suppliers. In the software domain, this is more relevant, as the network becomes more “intelligent” it has to be supported by best-in-breed solutions. Disaggregation of hardware and software enables this.
  • Energy efficiency gains: Instead of looking at the bigger RAN picture, breaking down the different components through OpenRAN allows companies to focus more acutely on energy efficiency programmes in specific areas. Multiple smaller gains will lead to a better net result.
  • Focus on software operations: By ensuring any software and hardware components of the network are vendor agnostic and interoperable, upgrades to orchestration, management and automation software do not necessarily mean hardware components have to be replaced.

Vodafone switches on first 5G OpenRAN site

Vodafone plans to have 2,500 OpenRAN sites live by 2027.

How much of an impact will OpenRAN have on the Vodafone business?

From a network deployment perspective, Vodafone will have a greater number of suppliers to choose from. This has financial, security, resilience and innovation benefits, as competition is a natural catalyst for growth in any ecosystem.

From an operational perspective, Vodafone can dedicate more resource and investment to software-orientated projects as the upgrade paths of hardware and software are no-longer intrinsically linked. Dedicating more attention to software will also support the telco-to-techco objective, with Vodafone evolving to work with companies in a wider array of ways, as opposed to only focusing on connectivity.

What are the Vodafone Research and Development centres?

The Test and Integration Lab in Newbury and Digital Skills Hub in Malaga are two Research and Development facilities within the Vodafone estate. These two labs have been set up for Vodafone engineers to work alongside other companies and organisations in the industry to further the OpenRAN ecosystem.

The labs will focus on several areas, including:

  • Validating whether OpenRAN technologies are compliant with OpenRAN interoperability specifications.
  • Offering guidance and advice on the design of OpenRAN components (hardware and software) to ensure they are commercially and technologically viable for public telecommunications networks.
  • Collaborating with vendors on microchip architecture and design.
  • Exploring what new services and features can be integrated into telecommunications networks.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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