Vodafone UK activated what it claimed as the first 5G open RAN site in the country, as it presses on with a plan to roll out one of the world’s largest deployments of the network architecture.

In a statement, the operator noted the site in the city of Bath was the first of 2,500 4G and 5G sites using the system planned by 2027. The move is part of an enforced replacement of Huawei kit in its network.

As previously announced, it is using Samsung, Wind River, Dell, Intel, Keysight Technologies and Capgemini Engineering on the ongoing deployment.

In addition to being the first site of its kind running 5G in the UK, Vodafone asserted the switch-on marked the first time open RAN technology had been used on a macro site in the country to carry live customer traffic.

Vodafone partnered with vendor Mavenir in 2020 to activate its first 4G open RAN site.

Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK chief network officer, added it was a “watershed moment in the telecoms industry” noting open RAN would fundamentally change how it deploys connectivity infrastructure.

The operator and its Vodafone Group peers have been advocates of the network architecture for some time, while the UK government has been keen to push operators towards open RAN in the wake of ordering them to stop using Huawei for mobile network infrastructure.

UK authorities want 35 per cent of mobile traffic to go over open RAN networks by 2030 and have allocated state funding for various projects. In December 2021, the government announced all four operators supported its target.

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