STL is working with Facebook Connectivity to develop two Evenstar radios for the open radio access network (RAN) ecosystem.
Evenstar is an initiative within the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to design and manufacture open RAN radios. And Facebook Connectivity is an important participant of TIP — Facebook was actually the originator of the group.
The first radio that STL and Facebook Connectivity are working on is an O-RAN compliant radio, providing higher capacity for dense deployments. Chris Rice, CEO of STL’s Access Solutions business, said it’s an 8Tx8R, TDD, MIMO radio for the N78 band (from 3.3 GHz – 3.8 GHz). Rice said this spectrum band is popular for telecommunications companies worldwide. “You want to see where people are going to be deploying and hitting that niche and that it does both 4G and 5G,” said Rice.
The second radio is an O-RAN compliant 4G+5G dual technology, TDD radio for band 40 (from 2.3 GHz – 2.4 GHz). Rice said that band is used frequently in India, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, which are regions that STL wants to target.
Both radios, which will be developed over the next year, are also 3GPP compliant. STL is working with an original design manufacturer (ODM) in India to have the radios built.
STL and Facebook Connectivity have been testing radio technologies with top-tier telcos in the U.S., U.K. and Asia Pacific region.
Rice said a key tenant for both Facebook Connectivity and TIP is that they get buy-in from carriers before they spend a lot of time and money developing new radios.
The first TIP Evenstar radio was announced by Vodafone’s head of group network architecture Santiago Tenorio in October 2020.
Tenorio said one of Evenstar’s first goals was to design and manufacture a general-purpose radio for 4G and 5G networks aligned with 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance specifications. And the project wanted that radio to cost less than $1,000.
At the TIP virtual conference last October, Tenorio said that Evenstar had, in fact, built its first radio.
Now, STL and Facebook Connectivity are working on two Evenstar radios, and Rice said he’s aware of at least two other radios being developed by other vendors.