As Claudia Nemat, a member of the telekom technology board, explained in Bonn this week, Deutsche Telekom, VMware and Intel have developed the so-called virtual RAN platform (vRAN).
RAN is short for “Radio Access Network” and describes the components that surround antenna technology in mobile communications. Until now, Telekom has been expanding Single-RAN as part of the ongoing network modernization. This means that there is an antenna technology that can map all radio standards with GSM, UMTS and LTE.
open RAN as a prerequisite
For the first time, the new platform is based on the principles of the open RAN standard. Open RAN allows to increase the flexibility of the RAN, that is, the radio network, for LTE and 5G networks.
This applies to the use of different manufacturers. Because until now a location, in addition to the antenna, always had to be equipped with the technology of a manufacturer. With Open RAN, the mobile operator can also choose different manufacturers for different technical components on a transmission mast.
However, for the open RAN to work, manufacturers need to get involved as well. However, they naturally have little interest in this because they are much easier to replace. However, there are already the first manufacturers who see their opportunity here.
Software doubles the efficiency of a cellular network
The novelty that Telekom presents is a new virtual radio network architecture. It is based on software and cloud solutions with open standards and interfaces. According to Telekom, this is the first time that radio network optimization software can be used. With the help of this software, the efficiency of an LTE radio network can be doubled. Additionally, the software-based platform is scalable. If the number of antennas increases from two to four, the efficiency of the virtual RAN also doubles.
However, it will take a while before development is reflected in practice. The next network modernization cycle at Telekom will begin in at least two years. The necessary hardware could be installed as part of this. Only then can the software function and utilize the capacity of the cellular network more efficiently. According to the developers, the new solution works with all existing LTE mobile phones, as no changes are made to the radio interface.