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Vodafone and Qualcomm Technologies will work together in developing reference designs to support emerging and established network infrastructure vendors in building 5G networks using Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) technology.

By doing this, the goal is to lower the entry barrier for many telco companies and drive diversification of network equipment vendors. The technical blueprint will combine Vodafone’s engineering expertise at building high capacity, large-scale networks with Qualcomm Technologies’ leadership in developing high performance and low power Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) solutions for device and infrastructure products.

Santiago Tenorio, head of network architecture of Vodafone, said: “Global supply chains need a diverse and vibrant vendor ecosystem to keep them moving in the event of a product shortage or a single supplier having difficulties. Open RAN provides greater supplier diversity by allowing many more small vendors to compete on the world stage. Following the recent launch of our new Open RAN Test and Validation Lab, combining the creativity of Vodafone Engineering with that of our partners, we’re delighted to be partnering with Qualcomm Technologies to give smaller suppliers the best start.”

The powerful combination of the two innovators’ targets to foster Open RAN within 5G networks and enable the technology to be capable of supporting bandwidth-intensive applications such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) devices.

Gerardo Giaretta, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc said, “Qualcomm Technologies aims to deliver cutting-edge technology for virtualized, flexible, and interoperable 5G infrastructure across the globe. We look forward to expanding our efforts with Vodafone to support flexible and scalable 5G RAN deployments. Ecosystem collaborations like this play a critical role in allowing operators and industry verticals to more quickly and easily add 5G network coverage and capacity where and when it is needed most.”

The reference designs, powered by Qualcomm® Radio Unit Platform with Massive MIMO capabilities and Qualcomm® Distributed Unit Platform, are expected to be published this year. Trials are expected to commence in the second half of 2022, following a detailed software development process.

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