IBM and Telefónica Argentina (Movistar) have announced a live, fully operational Open RAN network that will act as a proof of concept (PoC) for the delivery of commercial mobile services to the city of Puerto Madryn, Argentina, covering 81,000 urban residents. The launch allows for the testing of live, commercial traffic and provides an early proof point for the technology as it continues to develop.
IBM has led the system integration process, assembling components and systems from a number of software and hardware vendors, including Altiostar, Red Hat, Quanta, Gigatera and Kontron, from pre-integration all the way through to full deployment.
Open RAN is a state-of-the-art radio access network technology that enables interoperability for transforming a radio network into an open cloud environment in which multiple vendors can participate to create a better and more efficient service network. When using Open RAN, operators can combine hardware and software from different vendors, but this architecture also poses the problem of which vendor to contact when things do not work correctly. In addition, a small portion of operators are seeking an entity that can manage all the components, instead of selecting those components themselves.
Technology giant IBM explained that the partnership with Telefonica Argentina demonstrated the telecommunications industry’s confidence in its experience as a systems integrator, saying that its tools and processes allow operators to establish themselves in the Open RAN space. IBM states that its technology and competence in the field enables mobile operators around the world to manage network functions and data applications in a variety of private and public cloud environments. Furthermore, IBM has also opened a new Open RAN Center of Excellence to promote adoption across Europe.
For Telefonica, this announcement follows a contract signed with Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Group to collaborate on the implementation and development of Open RAN. The company has also partnered with Rakuten Mobile on ecosystem development.