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Italian telecom company TIM and Ericsson have started to digitalize TIM's nationwide radio access network in Italy starting in the city of Turin, where the first virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN) platform in a live advanced LTE network has been successfully deployed.

The partnership with Ericsson boosts TIM's transformation project DigiTIM, which aims at superior customer experience and increased operational efficiency through virtualization and automation of network systems. The deployment marks a new milestone in the collaboration between Ericsson and TIM towards 5G early adoption.

"Our vRAN partnership with TIM shows that the evolution towards 5G through the virtualization, automation and digitalization of radio access networks is not just a talking point but an action point, as seen by the successful deployment in Turin," said Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President, Head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson. "We are working closely with TIM to turn this city deployment into a nationwide deployment."

The vRAN technology supports the transformation of the network into a flexible cloud platform that enables the management of innovative services and automation to optimize processes and reduce associated costs.

TIM and Ericsson are collaborating on the development of Self Organizing Network (SON) solutions, which have already increased automation with significant customer experience improvements, especially for VoLTE (Voice-over-LTE) services.

"The virtualization and automation of the access network, of which TIM is a pioneer, starting from 4.5G represents a key evolutionary challenge in the smooth migration path towards 5G, which is much more than just a set of new network technologies," said Giovanni Ferigo, CTO, TIM.

"Digitalization drives the need for flexibility and operational efficiency to enable expanded service models while maintaining performance to ensure the sustainability of future investments," Ferigo added. "RAN transformation will guarantee, also, security by design and openness, modularity and programmability that enable automation."

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