Vodafone Spain partners with the iTEAM Institute at the Universitat Politècnica de València to implement a 5G SA network with Open RAN

  • This agreement aims to enhance the expansion of the iTEAM’s Advanced Immersive and Holographic 5G Laboratory at the UPV, located in Valencia.
  • Vodafone’s expertise in Open RAN technologies will be key for the implementation of low-power indoor 5G base stations, known as femtocells.

Vodafone Spain and the Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications Institute (iTEAM) at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) have initiated a collaborative project for the study and development of 5G SA networks using low-cost and low-power Open RAN equipment.

This agreement aims to expand the Advanced Immersive and Holographic 5G Laboratory of the UPV, located at the institution’s headquarters in Valencia, leveraging Vodafone Spain’s expertise in Open RAN technology and the implementation of low-power indoor 5G base stations known as femtocells. These miniaturized cells, developed by Vodafone in collaboration with Lime Microsystems, utilize Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology and low-cost, low-power equipment such as Raspberry Pi to create a mechanism that enables the deployment of virtualized private 5G networks through open-source software platforms.

The project development includes the following tasks:

  • Exploration of architectures and deployment options: Vodafone teams will analyze various network architecture and deployment options, considering performance requirements, costs, scalability, reliability, resource availability, and support.
  • Service characterization: The performance of the femtocells will be evaluated through various performance indicators such as capacity, coverage, spectral efficiency, latency, energy consumption, flexibility, and scalability.
  • Interoperability and use of RIC (RAN Intelligent Controller): The aim is to achieve femtocell interoperability with different RIC platforms. Use cases related to radio network optimization will also be explored.
  • Network management: Femtocells will be integrated with a Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) system to manage the femtocell network, and their integration into a virtualized 5G core network will be studied.

The project outcome will enhance knowledge, research, and development in the telecommunications field, thanks to the public-private collaboration between the Universitat Politècnica de València and Vodafone. Additionally, it will demonstrate the potential of programmable femtocells to support immersive, holographic, telepresence, and tactile applications in a demanding testbed environment, opening the door beyond the laboratory to other uses such as supporting private networks in industrial settings.

“This type of cooperation is of great importance for the growth of the industrial and telecommunications sector in Spain, as it fosters both the transmission of knowledge from national research centers to the commercial realm for application in services and infrastructures, and the participation of companies with extensive experience and presence in the sector in promoting national research,” emphasized David Gómez-Barquero, Deputy Director of Research at iTEAM.

Laura Galián, Territorial Director of Vodafone in the Valencian Community, Balearic Islands, and Murcia, stated: “We are very proud to collaborate with the UPV, a leader in research and development of 5G use cases in Spain. The lessons learned will contribute to more accessible, low-consumption, open, flexible, and affordable communication solutions that improve the connectivity of our customers.”

This collaboration is part of the UNICO I+D program included in the Advanced-5G-Immersive project under the framework of the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan – financed by the European Union – NextGenerationEU, from which the UPV is a beneficiary.