Vodafone is keenly interested in Nokia’s Cloud RAN architecture for switching between 4G, 5G and IoT. Trials of Nokia’s AirScale Cloud RAN platform conducted at a Vodafone R&D site in Italy assessed the suitability of C-RAN to provide the same service level as existing RAN architecture used for the company’s LTE networks. The tests also evaluated the potential added efficiencies and benefits associated with deploying cloud technology, which Nokia stated includes improved scalability and flexibility.
The trials examined the use of cloud-based radio access technology for macro networks. A major reason, over and above the usual efficiency/agility ones, to move RANs to the cloud is the hybrid nature of future networks, with 4G expected to coexist with both new 5G air interfaces and LPWANs for IoT.
Splitting baseband processing functionality between real-time and non real-time functions is the name of the game, apparently, because that allows the most time sensitive functions to be performed at the edge of the network, while others are virtualized and run in the cloud, allowing all the expected cloudy goodness.
“Working with Nokia on this trial we have seen how the application of Cloud RAN architecture can help the network react to changing demands quickly,” said Santiago Tenorio, Head of Networks at Vodafone Group. “It speeds up the delivery of services and will help with the transition to 5G.”
“Our Cloud RAN technology can help operators optimize network performance even as they cope with the increasing demands being placed upon them,” said Roberto Loiola, Head of Vodafone Global Customer Business Team at Nokia. “This trial with Vodafone builds on this promise, enabling Nokia to apply its longstanding working relationship with them to explore how we can enable the smooth and efficient transition from 4G to 5G.”
Other 5G trials in the works:
- Telefónica recently announced a 5G Proof of Concept trial with Huawei and last week dabbled in a spot of Pre5G massive MIMO live testing with ZTE.
- Huawei and BT have established a 5G research partnership, including how faster mobile communication technologies might be applied, as well as the technical and commercial feasibility of deploying them.
- We reported last week that Verizon was testing “Wireless Fiber” in a 5G trial.
- Ericsson believes most large wireless network operators are already planning 5G trials.