DT sets Open RAN target

3,000 sites by 2026 will be "O-RAN compatible", says operator as it starts with limited Nokia deployment.

Deutsche Telekom has said that it plans to have more than 3,000 ORAN-compatible antenna locations by the end of 2026. 

The operator currently has 80,000 5G antennas in its network, and wants to expand coverage from 96% of the population to 99% by 2025. That would seem to indicate that by 2026 about 5% of its antennas might be “O-RAN compatible”.

Some of the newest O-RAN compatible sites are now live in a “cluster” in Neubrandenburg – where DT formerly held pilot trials in the location it called “O-RAN Town”. In these sites Nokia is supplying its baseband unit, connected to Fujitsu RUs. 

DT and Nokia announced an agreement in February 2023 for Nokia to re-enter its RAN by acting as lead vendor for sites built with open interfaces between the RU and DU-CU baseband. The confirmation that an unknown number of sites are now live is the first public fruit of that announcement.

Although Nokia has confirmed to TMN that this deployment uses Nokia’s own baseband unit and also Nokia’s own management software, a press release from the companies said that Nokia had committed to “explore O-RAN technology around Cloud RAN, 3rd party CaaS, RIC, SMO, and energy efficiency”.    

Nokia’s strategy for an open Cloud RAN is named AnyRAN, which sees it put its low layer DU processing as a plug-in for commercial servers from different partners. The Neubrandenburg deployment, however, is based on Nokia’s own unit and hardware, TMN understands. 

DT already had some sites live in its O-RAN Town using Mavenir, Dell Technologies, Intel, NEC and Fujitsu.

In the same February announcement, DT said it would be working with Mavenir to drive mMIMO Open RAN deployments in Europe, excluding Germany. There has been no public update on that deployment since.