Vodafone has completed the first commercial 5G call between smartphones connected over open radio access network (open RAN) technology in Spain, using a Lime Microsystems LimeNET Base Station integrated into the company’s commercial core network.
Demonstrated by Vodafone’s Spanish arm during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event this week, the video call between Vodafone Group network director Santiago Tenorio and Vodafone Spain network director Julia Velasco represented the first use of open RAN equipment for commercial purposes on the company’s network in the region.
Connecting through a LimeNET Base Station, which uses a combination of software-defined radio (SDR) and general-purpose processing technologies to allow for rapid deployment and flexible reconfiguration on-demand, the call marked a milestone for efforts to democratise cellular network infrastructure and end vendor lock-in.
“The open RAN networks will allow the promotion of a solid and diverse ecosystem in terms of suppliers of this technology in our market,” a Vodafone Spain spokesperson announced, in translation, following the demonstration, “by having differentiated software and hardware providers with interoperable components.
🖼️ Quédate con esta imagen: la primera llamada comercial 5G con Open RAN de España.
Seguimos apostando por esta tecnología, que permitirá realizar despliegues de forma más rápida, con menor coste y con equipos más eficientes a nivel energético. pic.twitter.com/ndaw7V0DNa
— Vodafone España (@vodafone_es) February 27, 2022
“The flexibility provided by this technology is especially important in the case of deployments in rural environments, because it would allow deployments to be carried out more quickly, at a lower cost and with more efficient equipment in energy terms.”
The demonstration, Vodafone has confirmed, took place using standard off-the-shelf smartphones on a commercial network configured to allow connection from any smartphone or other cellular device fitted with one of Vodafone’s commercial SIM cards.
“We continue to bet on this technology,” the company announced via Twitter, “which will allow us to deploy more quickly, at a lower cost and with more energy-efficient equipment.”
Vodafone has been working with Lime Microsystems on a range of efforts relating to open RAN technologies, most recently including a partnership on the production of open RAN application-specific silicon chips designed to boost efficiency and performance.
More information on the demonstration is available on the Vodafone Spain website.