Test Beds Push Forward Open RAN in Europe, U.K.

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Open RAN is getting some serious scrutiny in the U.K. and Europe. IBM and Airspan Networks Inc., which provides 5G hardware and software network solutions, are collaborating on the launch of a 5G-enabled Open RAN testbed in Munich, Germany, and Nice, France, to showcase long-distance control over 5G-enabled edge computing. Meanwhile, 5G-ENCODE Project, a $12.28 million collaborative project funded by the UK government, is developing Open RAN business cases for 5G applications in the manufacturing industry at the National Composites Centre in Bristol, England.

The European testbed will develop multi-vendor solutions to address different customer use case requirements, based on open, interoperable standards, according to Airspan. “Open approaches and standards-based technologies are vital to help unleash the full potential of 5G and edge computing,” said Marisa Viveros, Vice President of Strategy and Offerings, Telecom, Media and Entertainment Industry at IBM. “That’s why, in collaboration with Airspan, we hope to work to advance emerging use cases that harness Open RAN and bring new value to telecom clients.”  

IBM and Airspan said in a release they hope to accelerate the adoption of the Open RAN technology and ecosystem, incorporating IBM’s global hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence and IBM Global Business Services’ network edge experience. 

Airspan said it is also providing Open RAN provider the UK’s 5G-ENCODE Project, which aims to prove the commercial benefit of 5G in augmented reality and virtual reality to support design, manufacturing and training; monitoring and tracking time-sensitive assets; and wireless real-time in-process monitoring and analytics. It is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the UK government as part of its 5G Testbeds and Trials Program. 5G-ENCODE’s use cases have deployed network slicing and splicing technology developed by Zeetta Networks.

“In this project for the first time we have shown how a public and open 5G test-bed developed by University of Bristol can be seamlessly connected to a private industrial 5G network. [This] enables next generation industrial 5G use cases and applications, such as interactive real time remote training and critical asset tracking,” said Dimitra Simeonidou, Director of Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol.

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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