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Orange signs up Nokia for global SON and 5G optimisation

News

Nokia will deploy self-organizing networks (SON) to boost automation and support 5G optimization across Orange's affiliates.

According to Nokia, this deal allows Orange's affiliate operators to optimise their mobile networks irrespective of which RAN vendor's equipment they run on through the SON technology.

The deal covers all Orange’s markets, and will start with France and Spain. Nokia will continue to offer support for 2G, 3G and 4G spanning more than one million Orange radio cells in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Auto-configure radio

Nokia describes SON as a key tool in its network management and optimization portfolio that will enable Orange to automate radio network configuration and optimisation processes, and improve network performance and efficiency to support the demands of 5G. 

This includes automating operations to exploit better the existing 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

No O-RAN?

Interestingly, there was no mention of O-RAN, although Orange pledged its commitment to Open RAN in January along with Deutsche Telekom, Telefononica and Vodafone. For its part, Nokia Nokia has contributed most of the code for the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) and other key elements, leading analyst Caroline Gabriel to express concern about the possibility of O-RAN becoming dominated by a single vendor.

A centralised SON platform automates operations across multiple technologies, promising to reduce the complexities arising from multi-vendor, multi-layered networks.

Nokia claims the automation and AI framework built into Nokia SON will help Orange affiliates provide better network quality with greater reliability and speed to customers. Orange has been experimenting with SON for some time.

Using Nokia SON’s software development kit (SDK), Orange has been creating and sharing custom solutions to manage their unique network environments.

Beam forming

Arnaud Vamparys, Senior VP Radio Networks and 5G at Orange, said, “As a long-term partner, Nokia was a natural choice to help us automate our mobile networks in different geographies. The complexity of radio optimization is growing with 5G beamforming and Nokia’s flexible, automated and multi-vendor platform enables us to maintain our exemplary network quality and customer satisfaction in the 5G era.”

Mark Atkinson, Head of RAN at Nokia, said: “We appreciate and understand that our CSP customers have a technology stack that spans multiple vendors, which can lead to inefficiencies and complexity. Working with Orange and its global affiliates to optimize and simplify their multi-vendor networks is a challenge we relish and are proud to be part of.”