MOVE OVER HUAWEI, ERICSSON AND NOKIA, there's a new player in the generally seen-but-not-heard-world of phone network infrastructure. Vodafone has announced that its Open Radio Access Networks - or OpenRAN - is now being tested in 120 rural areas around Britain, starting today.
If reading about mobile phone network infrastructure isn't how you dreamed of spending your Monday afternoon, then feel free to close the window now and read something else. We won't blame you one bit. Look: here's a piece about people demanding a new Windows Phone like the last decade didn't happen! Wouldn't you rather read that instead?
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OpenRAN is a project between Vodafone and Intel where the software and hardware in mobile phone networks - masts, antennae, everything in the radio access network - is standardised. In theory this could lead to lower prices for phone contracts in time, or alternatively the savings could be used for executive bonuses. Time will tell.
In any case, the British test is the first in Europe after a successful public roll out across urban and rural Turkey, and a lab test in South Africa. Next up will be tests in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have been picked due to their position on the United Nations Human Development Index, quite a way below Britain's slot. All three trials will support 2G, 3G and 4G, with the possibility of 5G joining the mix in time.
"We are pleased with trials of OpenRAN and are ready to fast track it into Europe as we seek to actively expand our vendor ecosystem," said Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read. "OpenRAN improves the network economics enabling us to reach more people in rural communities and that supports our goal to build digital societies in which no-one is left behind."
That's it. You did it! You got to the end of a piece about mobile phone network infrastructure. Go and buy yourself a Twix with our blessing. µ
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