Vodafone announces OpenRAN wireless hardware evaluation results, Comba Telecom and Chengdu NTS stand out as 9 major RU hardware vendors

Today, at a webinar at TIP, Vodafone announced for the first time the results of an RFI assessment of its OpenRAN wireless hardware procurement process.

The results show that 9 RU hardware suppliers, Baicells, Comba, Fujitsu, NTS, Mavenir, Airspan, GigaTera, NEC, and Xilinx, stand out.

Multi-band RRH suppliers: Baicaibang, Comba, Fujitsu, Chengdu NTS

Massive MIMO product suppliers: Airspan, GigaTera, NEC, Chengdu NTS, Xilinx

Single-band RRH suppliers: Comba Telecom, Chengdu NTS, Mavenir

Among them, Chengdu NTS (NTS) is a dazzling new star, its products cover multi-band RRH, single-band RRH and Massive MIMO, and its energy efficiency and structural design are on the list.

In addition, Comba Telecom also performed well.

Vodafone stated that the RU hardware from these vendors is the product that best meets the specifications we want, and it plans to deploy OpenRAN with these products in the first half of 2021.

The results of Vodafone’s RFI assessment by companies such as Chengdu NTS, Comba Telecom, and Baicaibang have proved China’s advantages in RU manufacturing capacity and cost.

Although OpenRAN is currently booming overseas, the overseas OpenRAN industry is seriously lacking in the RU hardware ecosystem, and the inability to mass-produce low-cost RUs is a market barrier for OpenRAN.

Although some overseas OpenRAN manufacturers have RU design capabilities, the global RU manufacturing capabilities are mainly concentrated in China and South Korea.

Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that the three Chinese manufacturers, Chengdu NTS, Comba Telecom, and Baicaibang, were shortlisted for Vodafone’s RFI evaluation results list.

(South Korea’s RU manufacturing capacity is also relatively strong. In addition to Samsung, KMW is also well-known. It is said that Nokia’s 5G AAU in South Korea has KMW OEM. GigaTera is a company under KMW)

In addition, it is worth mentioning that at this meeting, Vodafone also said that TIP’s Evenstar program has made a “major breakthrough”.

The so-called Evenstar program is a new program launched by the TIP Alliance in February this year to introduce low-cost “killer” RRH products.

The product plan is in line with OpenRAN’s open interface design, can connect CU and DU devices from different manufacturers, supports 1800MHz or 700MHz, transmits power of 160W, supports 4T4R (4X40W) or 2T4R (2x80W) options, and has a target price of $1,000.

Why did the TIP Alliance launch this program? It is because of the lack of low-cost RU.

Perhaps what Vodafone calls a “big breakthrough” means that the cost of RUs to support OpenRAN has dropped significantly.

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