Vodafone has teamed up with Intel Corp and other silicon vendors to design its own chip architecture for developing OpenRAN network technology. The collaboration aims to weaken the power of traditional telecoms equipment suppliers.
OpenRAN allows operators to mix and match suppliers in their radio networks, posing a challenge to the likes of the ones that dominate the global telecoms equipment market with their proprietary technologies.
Moreover, Vodafone’s initiative will contribute to the European Union’s efforts to bolster its chip industry and double its share of global production to 20% after it lost ground to Asian and U.S. suppliers.
Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s director of network architecture, commented in an interview with Reuters that OpenRAN would enable the mobile operator to quickly add new digital services and to optimize networks using artificial intelligence (AI).
What OpenRAN do is to create interoperability between both software and hardware components of the radio access network.
The R&D centre is the first dedicated to advancing OpenRAN chip architecture. It will bring 50 people dedicated to OpenRAN together with 650 software engineers, architects and technicians in Malaga. Tenorio also noted that Vodafone would design silicon for ARM and RISC-V instruction sets as well as Intel x86. He added that Intel was up to three years ahead of rivals and had already played a key role in OpenRAN’s development.