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Xilinx, Mavenir partner to boost open 5G network capacity

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By Stephen Nellis

April 13 (Reuters) - Semiconductor firm Xilinx Inc and telecommunications software firm Mavenir Inc said on Tuesday they have partnered to boost cellphone tower capacity for an emerging category of open 5G networks.

In previous generations of networks, carriers purchased hardware and software as an integrated package from suppliers such as Nokia, Ericcson or China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

But U.S. sanctions on Huawei have disrupted its business and sped up a move toward what are known as open radio access networks, where carriers can purchase hardware and software from a variety of different vendors such as Xilinx and Mavenir. That allows carriers to save costs and, in some countries, source more parts of their networks domestically.

But the newer open networks have not always matched all the features that traditional telecommunications equipment makers can provide, including the ability to pack multiple antennas into the radio unit at the top of a cellphone tower to boost the tower's capacity. The technology goes by the name MIMO, which stands for multiple-input, multiple-output.

Xilinx and Mavenir said they plan to provide the needed chips and software for the open 5G networks to implement the technology. The companies said the technology will be ready for testing in labs later this year. Xilinx is based in San Jose, California, and Mavenir is in Richardson, Texas.

The two companies did not announce any customers for the new product, but said Vodafone Group has named them to a short list of potential vendors.

Job Benson, vice president and head of product management for radio products at Mavenir, told Reuters in an interview that the companies are working to have the technology ready at approximately the same time as traditional equipment makers.

"(Carriers) want a real choice of a fully open network that allows them to diversify their network, but something that's competitive as well," Benson said. (Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco Editing by Matthew Lewis)