Orange, the French telecommunications giant, is launching Europe’s first 5G experimental cloud network this July in Lannion, France. The network will act as a blueprint for the next generation of more efficient and agile networks as Orange moves towards a ‘zero-touch network’.
Orange’s experimental network will be 100% software-enabled, data-and-AI-driven, fully automated and cloud-native. It will also encompass Open Radio Access Network (RAN) technology – industry-wide interface standards that allow interoperation of RAN equipment and software between different vendors.
Michaël Trabbia, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Orange, commented: “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. 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”.
Orange says the network will allow it to better understand the “customer experience benefits” of a fully cloudified network as well as the full potential of AI and Data. It will also enable Orange to determine the future skills needed – a key strand of its Engage2025 strategy to ‘co-create a future-facing company, as well as the environmental benefits – another key pillar of its strategy. The project will run over a two-year period and ramp-up to encompass several hundred users.
Orange is currently working with partners able to cover all aspects of the network. For the first stage of the project, the partners include Mavenir for cloud 5G Open RAN, Casa Systems for cloud 5G SA core network, Hewlett Packard Enterprise for Cloud 5G SA SDM (Subscriber Data Management), Dell Technologies for infrastructure and servers supporting RAN Centralized Unit, Distributed Unit and Core and Xiaomi for devices. Orange is also using continuous integration and continuous deployment approach as well as orchestration open source solutions, including GitLab and ONAP, to automate networks and service management.
The new network sees the setting up of Open RAN and core function on a single Kubernetes-based infrastructure fully managed by Orange and deploying a fully automated core. From July, the network will start using and testing O-RAN radio equipment, CNF’s (Containerized Network Functions) on cloud infrastructure, network data collection and AI automation.
The experimental network will also host Information System OSS (Operations Support System – network inventory management and network operations), BSS (Business Support System – CRM and billing). In 2022, the network will expand to further locations to increase the number of users and to test vertical use-cases leveraging dynamic network slicing.
You can find more information about Orange and Europe’s First 5G Experimental Cloud Network on its website.
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