YOU ARE AT:Open RANVodafone's new R&D center accelerates Open RAN silicon efforts

Vodafone’s new R&D center accelerates Open RAN silicon efforts

Málaga, Spain facility to ‘strengthen Europe’s position’ in global semiconductor market

European telco Vodafone announced Monday that its new research and development center in Málaga, Spain is now online. Vodafone’s goal for the new facility is to advance Open RAN-related microchip architecture development.

Vodafone said that 50 people dedicated to Open RAN will join 650 software engineers, architects and technicians. The telco plans to open another research center later this year in Dresden, Germany, it said.

Vodafone is teaming up with specialist technology companies to develop the Open RAN ecosystem, according to Francisco Martin, head of Open RAN, Vodafone.

“Silicon innovation will strengthen Europe’s position in the global market and speed up the roll out of new digital services,” said Martin.

Vodafone’s news comes as legislators on both sides of the Atlantic grapple with strategic semiconductor concerns. Politicians want to jump-start regional semiconductor research, development and manufacturing to wean the industry from over-dependence on Chinese chip foundries.

U.S. and E.U. officials both plan ambitious multi-billion dollar and euro efforts. The U.S. CHIPS Act and USICA would see billions spent on new programs. They are joined by the European Chips Act, a new proposal expected to be made public on February 8th. 

Vodafone said it will invest €225 million over the next five years on the new Málaga facility.

New center to stimulate telco tech and careers

“Vodafone aims to use the centre to develop and launch new products and services faster, cheaper and in multiple countries at the same time. It forms part of Vodafone’s plan to add nearly 7,000 software engineers across Europe by 2025, through a combination of recruitment, re-skilling existing employees and insourcing,” said the company.

Vodafone will partner with local schools and businesses to promote the innovation hub, said the company. Vodafone said early research at the facility will focus on IoT and new smart home and smart cities technology. New 5G applications, artificial intelligence and machine learning research are planned.

Vodafone’s Open RAN efforts are accelerating. In January the company stepped up Open RAN trialing efforts in the U.K. with a deployment in the city of Bath. Vodafone claims it to be the first operational 5G Open RAN site in the country. Bath is the first of 2,500 5G and 4G Open RAN sites which Vodafone has committed to through 2027. 

Open RAN recently saw a boost from the U.K. government. In December 2021, the U.K. Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants 35% of U.K. mobile traffic to be carried over Open RAN by 2030. The plan allocates £36 million ($47.5 million) in funding for fifteen projects to trial the O-RAN technology across Scotland, Wales and England, and a £15 million cash injection for a next-gen telecom tech testing facility. U.K. carriers including Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media O2 and Three are on board.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Peter Cohen
Peter Cohen
Peter is Technology Editor for RCR Wireless News. His coverage areas include telco cloud and the convergence of 5G and cloud computing. Peter's background includes IT management and a decade as a senior editor at Macworld. He and his family live in Massachusetts.

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