European telecom Orange has launched what it claims is the first 5G standalone cloud network—an experimental network that will serve as a blueprint for future generations of 5G networks.
The network, located in Lannion, France, will be 100% software-enabled, data-driven and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven as well as fully automated and cloud-native.
The experimental network will help Orange to understand how these technologies will be able to co-exist and its impact on network lifecycles.
The project will run over a two-year period and ramp up to encompass several hundred users. During that period, Orange will work with partners to cover all aspects of the network.
Partners for the first phase include:
- Mavenir will provide the cloud 5G Open RAN
- Casa Systems will supply the cloud 5G standalone core network
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise for Cloud 5G standalone SA SDM
- Dell Technologies for infrastructure and servers supporting RAN centralized unit
- Xiaomi for devices
Beginning this month, the network will start using and testing:
- O-RAN radio equipment
- Containerized network functions on a cloud infrastructure
- Network data collection
- AI automation
In 2022, the network will expand to further locations to increase the number of users and test vertical use-cases for dynamic network slicing.
“Our ambition is to prepare Orange for the operator of the future by building more resilient and auto-adaptive networks that offer best in class quality of service in each situation,” said Michaël Trabbia, chief technology and innovation officer at Orange. “This experimental network represents an important milestone on our way to implement and deploy Open RAN and AI technologies to prepare on-demand connectivity and zero touch operator capabilities.”