An obscure, Taiwanese radio vendor – Microelectronics Technology (MTI) – got some attention last week for its work with Dish Network on open radio access network (RAN) hardware. And now, Mavenir has announced it partnered with MTI to create the Evenstar B3 remote radio head (RRH).
Evenstar is a Facebook and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) initiative to build open RAN radios. TIP launched the Evenstar RRU program in February with the goal of designing and manufacturing a general-purpose radio for 4G and 5G networks aligned with 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance specifications.
Others involved in the Evenstar effort include Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Parallel Wireless and AceAxis.
The Evenstar B3 RRH announced by Mavenir and MTI today is the first 4G/5G Evenstar radio to become generally available for use by the open RAN community.
Mavenir and MTI say they are currently lab-testing the Evenstar B3 RRH with multiple mobile operators around the world.
RRHs, distributed units (DUs), and centralized units (CUs) have traditionally only been available as a packaged unit. But by decoupling these components, the Evenstar program enables operators to mix and match solutions from an increasing number of technology partners. The Evenstar program will eventually include multiple RRH product SKUs, including FDD B3 (4T4R 4X40W).
TIP and Evenstar
At TIP’s virtual conference in October, Vodafone’s head of group network architecture Santiago Tenorio alluded to the first Evenstar radio. He said TIP wanted the radio to cost less than $1,000 and was on track to achieve that goal.
Separately from TIP, Vodafone has been on a roll issuing requests for quotes (RFQs) and requests for information (RFIs) as it strives to expand the ecosystem for open RAN equipment.
Wearing his TIP hat, Tenorio said TIP put the Evenstar radio through the rigors of Vodafone’s RFI process to see how it stacked up against the radios of other vendors. “We stayed honest about it, and our product came in the top three in the category,” he said. “Not only is it a radio you will be able to buy below $1,000 per unit, it is actually competing with some of the best radios out there.”