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The project will be Europe’s first 5G Stand Alone (SA) fully end-to-end cloud network.

European telco Orange announced this week that it will launch an experimental 5G network using a cloud-based open platform and artificial intelligence. The announcement comes as the EU telecom industry rushes to shift services onto the cloud in a bid to cut costs and modernise.

The experimental network will launch in July in Lannion, France. It will act as a blue-print for the next generation of networks as Orange moves towards what they call a ‘zero touch network’.

A future-leaning network

Orange’s experimental network will be 100% software-enabled. It will also be data and AI-driven, fully automated and cloud-native. It will also encompass Open RAN technology – underlining its commitment to this technology.

With this network, Orange hope to better understand how these technologies co-exist and their impact on the network lifecycle. In addition, the network will enable Orange to better understand the customer experience benefits of a fully “cloudified” network. It will also help them realise the full potential of AI and Data. The project will run over a two-year period and ramp up to encompass several hundred users.

A focused deployment

The new network sports Open RAN and core function on a single Kubernetes-based infrastructure. It will be fully managed by Orange and using a fully automated core.

The experimental network will also host Information System OSS (Operations Support System – network inventory management and network operations). It will also use BSS (Business Support System – CRM and billing). The network will also aid Orange’s ambition to use AI to secure and optimize the network and predict its behavior.

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,” he said.

“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.”