Orange to launch autonomous cloud native 5G pilot network in France – .

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Orange to launch autonomous cloud native 5G pilot network in France – .


The focus on cloud and open RAN continues this week alongside Mobile World Congress 2021, as mobile operator Orange announced plans to launch a standalone 5G pilot network in France that is end-to-end native. from the cloud.

This is a two-year project, launched in July with partners from the Open RAN ecosystem. This includes US-based Mavenir, which provides the 5G open RAN software. Other vendors include Casa Systems for the 5G SA core of the cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise for subscriber data management (SDM), Dell Technologies for infrastructure and services for the centralized radio unit, distributed unit and kernel, and Xiaomi devices.

The operator said the fully software-enabled standalone 5G network is a first in Europe.

Open RAN software and basic functions will be deployed on a single Kubernetes-based infrastructure fully managed by Orange.

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By deploying cloud and open RAN technologies in the pilot program, Orange said it aims to learn how they coexist and impact the network lifecycle. Initially launched in Lannion, France, new locations will be added in 2022 as the network expands to increase the number of users (which is expected to reach several hundred) and test capabilities such as network slicing for cases vertical use.

The network also hosts Operations Support System (OSS) for inventory management and network operations and Business Support System (BSS) for CRM and invoicing, as Orange hopes to use artificial intelligence to help secure the network as well as predictive analysis of network behavior.

“Our ambition is to prepare Orange for the operator of the future by building more resilient and self-adapting networks that offer the best quality of service in each situation,” said Michaël Trabbia, director of technology and innovation at Orange, in a press release. . “This experimental network represents an important step in our way of implementing and deploying Open RAN and AI technologies to prepare on-demand connectivity and the capabilities of contactless operators. “

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European operators have been at the forefront of supporting the use of open RAN technology. Open RAN has different flavors but generally refers to open interfaces between disaggregated components of the base station, conforming to the specifications defined by the O-RAN Alliance and allowing interoperability between different elements of the providers.

Orange was one of the main European operators, alongside Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone, who met earlier this year to express their individual commitment to the implementation and deployment of Open RAN solutions. In a memorandum of understanding, operators said they would work with new entrants to the ecosystem, European policy makers and industry bodies such as the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra (TIP) project to promote the availability of carrier-grade Open RAN technology for commercial enterprises. deployment.

This does not mean that it is abandoning the traditional suppliers Ericsson and Nokia. In April, Mobile World Live reported Trabbia’s comments on Orange’s plans to only deploy open RAN-enabled network equipment in 2025, but stressed that this was “not something that is against Nokia and Ericsson.” , noting that both are important contributors to the O-RAN Alliance. .

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In other Orange news this week, the operator rolled out a private 4G / 5G network with Nokia at Schneider Electric’s factory in Le Vaudreuil, France, with a focus on network slicing in a industrial environment.

Overall, the Orange Group is present in 26 countries. At the end of March, it had 217 million mobile customers worldwide.

Last September, 5G commercial service was launched in the major cities of Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, followed in December by 5G service in France. Ericsson was a RAN provider for both deployments.

In France, Orange is using the 3.5 GHz spectrum for the first time after securing 90 MHz of medium-band waves for € 854 million at auction in 2020. It is also using the spectrum in the 2.1 GHz range in certain areas , with speeds equivalent to 4G. By 2023, Orange said that 5G on 2.1 GHz will provide access to new 5G services like e-health and smart cities in certain 4G areas.

In Spain, Orange’s 5G service is available in 442 municipalities and 38 provinces. 5G has also been activated in Romania, in non-autonomous mode.

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