Japanese carrier NTT Docomo will collaborate with Vodafone UK with the aim to jointly progress open radio access network (Open RAN) technology.
Open RAN technology, if adopted widely, could lead to fully interoperable mobile networks globally.
NTT Docomo’s chief technology officer Naoki Tani said the collaboration with Vodafone will help to “accelerate” the broad “commercial adoption” of Open RAN and realise a vibrant RAN ecosystem for 5G and beyond.
"The cooperation will drive greater interoperability between different vendor systems worldwide, giving customers a seamless service across 4G and 5G Open RAN networks no matter where they live, work, or travel," the two mobile operators said.
According to Docomo, the partnership will help vendors “avoid repetition” when dealing with multiple network operators, saving time, capital outlays, and resources; especially when it comes to smaller suppliers and startups.
The two parties will create closer ties between their respective lab environments in Japan and the UK.
They also aim to define the underlying software architecture necessary to implement certain technical components of Open RAN.
Vodafone’s CTO Johan Wibergh said that the collective R&D of Vodafone and Docomo will lower the entry barrier for companies across Europe and Asia who are wishing to build Open RAN networks.
Docomo is also working on the vendor side to secure the future of Open RAN technology.