The last of the major European economies is now represented in an operator cabal created to do something or other about OpenRAN technology.
The group was presented to the world a couple of weeks ago, flush with debutante optimism, vowed to collaborate in order to make Europe a hot-bed of radio access network innovation. Vodafone, Telefónica, Orange and DT represented the UK, Spain, France and Germany, respectively, but Italy was conspicuously absent.
A fortnight of FOMO was all it took to entice TIM to join the club. “TIM’s commitment to the creation of an O-RAN ecosystem, in addition to supporting Italian companies already developing solutions for new generation mobile networks, represents a solid opportunity to ensure our country plays a leading role as a provider of technologies for the digital transformation on a European scale,” said Michele Gamberini, TIM’s CTO, possibly via a translator averse to full-stops. “By signing up to the MoU with the operators, TIM is reinforcing its commitment to contribute to the development of Open RAN technology in Europe.”
Now there’s just the small matter of making OpenRAN at least as proficient and reliable as the closed RAN solutions offered by the likes of Ericsson and Nokia. And if not them, who will be the OpenRAN vendors. Will the growing cabal seek to pick winners and if so is that not cartel behaviour? It will be interesting to see what the European Commission has to say as this develops.
Now that the big five European countries are all accounted for we would expect the OpenRAN gang to move to the next tier. Outside of the UK this group seems to consist of former state monopolies revealing they haven’t entirely lost their taste for public money, so we can probably expect the likes of KPN and A1 to jump on board before long. You can almost hear the sound of the EU getting its cheque-book out.