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  • Vodafone names NEC as a key partner for 5G massive MIMO radio units supporting commercial deployment of Open RAN in the UK

    Published on June 18, 2021

     NEC Corporation announced today that it has been named as a key partner by Vodafone in the UK for supplying 5G massive MIMO radio units (RU) for the operator’s initiative to build one of the largest commercial Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) in the world.

    Following Vodafone’s announcement of its plan to initially deploy Open RAN to 2,500 sites in the UK, starting this year, the operator will work with key vendors to extend 4G and 5G coverage in rural areas in the South West of England and most of Wales, later moving into urban areas.

    NEC will be responsible for supplying its industry-leading massive MIMO 5G radio units that are compatible with the O-RAN Alliance 7-2x split. NEC will utilise its advanced technologies, commercial deployment experiences in Japan and its Open RAN Center of Excellence (CoE) in the UK to support Vodafone’s Open RAN deployment.

    “Open RAN is essential to accelerating innovation and increasing supply chain diversity,” said Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone. “Vodafone is keen to work with our strategic partners such as NEC to create a more cost-effective, secure, energy efficient and customer-focused network of the future.”

    “NEC is delighted to be awarded this project and we are excited to be working with Vodafone on this strategically important initiative,” said Shigeru Okuya, Senior Vice President, NEC Corporation. “We look forward to accelerating the development of Open RAN systems which in turn will improve innovation and help drive the UK digital economy.”

    NEC is also actively engaged in NeutrORAN, which demonstrates Open RAN ecosystem-based neutral host solutions. This is a part of the 5G testbed and trials program initiated by the UK Government in order to improve telecom supply chain diversification.

    Vodafone is a leading telecommunications company in Europe and Africa. We are the largest mobile and fixed network operator in Europe and a leading global IoT connectivity provider. Our M-Pesa technology platform in Africa enables over 48m people to benefit from access to mobile payments and financial services. We operate mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries and partner with mobile networks in 49 more. As of 31 March 2021, we had over 300m mobile customers, more than 28m fixed broadband customers, over 22m TV customers and we connected more than 123m IoT devices.