Vodafone said that this agreement aims to expand the Advanced Immersive and Holographic 5G Laboratory of the UPV in Valencia

Spanish carrier Vodafone Spain announced a collaboration project with the Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications Institute (iTEAM) at the UPV University in Valencia, Spain, to focus on the study and development of 5G SA networks using Open RAN (O-RAN) equipment.

The partners noted that this agreement aims to expand the Advanced Immersive and Holographic 5G Laboratory of the UPV, located at the institution’s headquarters in Valencia, leveraging Vodafone Spain’s expertise in O-RAN technology and the implementation of low-power indoor 5G base stations known as femtocells.

The pair explained that these miniaturized cells, developed by Vodafone in collaboration with Lime Microsystems, utilize Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology and low-cost, low-power equipment such as Raspberry Pi to create a mechanism that enables the deployment of virtualized private 5G networks through open-source software platforms.

Under the terms of the collaborative project, the partners will carry out exploration of architectures and deployment options. Vodafone teams will analyze various network architecture and deployment options, considering performance requirements, costs, scalability, reliability, resource availability and support.

The performance of the femtocells will be evaluated through various performance indicators such as capacity, coverage, spectral efficiency, latency, energy consumption, flexibility and scalability.

Additionally, femtocells will be integrated with a Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) system to manage the femtocell network, and their integration into a virtualized 5G core network will be studied.

The project outcome will demonstrate the potential of programmable femtocells to support immersive, holographic, telepresence and tactile applications in a demanding testbed environment, opening the door beyond the laboratory to other uses such as supporting private networks in industrial settings, the partners said.

Laura Galián, Director of Vodafone in the Valencian Community, Balearic Islands and Murcia, said: “We are very proud to collaborate with the UPV, a leader in research and development of 5G use cases in Spain. The lessons learned will contribute to more accessible, low-consumption, open, flexible and affordable communication solutions that improve the connectivity of our customers.”

Vodafone initially launched 5G services in Spain via Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture in 2019 while the telco launched a pre-commercial 5G SA network in June 2021. In January of 2022, Vodafone Spain announced the start of the initial deployment of 5G coverage via the 700 MHz frequency in 109 municipalities in 30 provinces across the country, after the telco secured spectrum in the 700 MHz band in July 2021.

Vodafone Group recently completed the sale of its Spanish operation to Zegona Communications for $5.4 billion.

Vodafone and Zegona previously said they will enter into a brand license agreement, which permits the use of the Vodafone brand in Spain for up to 10 years post-completion.

The transaction had been approved by the Spanish government after Zegona guaranteed the continuity of the service and contemplate future investments, mainly in mobile coverage with 5G technology, as well as to adopt measures that guarantee financial solvency.

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