Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN Radio Access Network Virtualization

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Cloud RAN
Cloud RAN

Announced June 19, 2018, Nokia completed a live network trial in Poland in collaboration with Orange to validate the benefits of cloud-optimized radio access networks for the smooth evolution to next-generation 5G technologies. The two companies trialed Cloud RAN technology to prepare for the eventual introduction of a distributed cloud architecture for 5G by Orange. A distributed, cloud-based radio access network architecture like Nokia’s AirScale Cloud RAN provides capacity where needed and prepares the network for the deployment of new 5G access technology as part of a multi-layered architecture.

C-RAN (Cloud-RAN), sometimes referred to as Centralized-RAN, is a proposed architecture for future cellular networks. It was first introduced by China Mobile Research Institute in April 2010 in Beijing, China, 9 years after it was disclosed in patent applications filed by U.S. companies. Simply speaking, C-RAN is a centralized, cloud computing-based architecture for radio access networks that supports 2G, 3G, 4G and future wireless communication standards such as 5G. Its name comes from the four ‘C’s in the main characteristics of C-RAN system, “Clean, Centralized processing, Collaborative radio, and a real-time Cloud Radio Access Network”.

The trial took place from March to the beginning of May in Poland, with radio sites in the city of Chelm and the virtualized part of the baseband running in a data center in Lublin 44 miles away. As a result, Nokia’s AirScale Cloud Base Station provided equally strong network performance on both Nokia’s reference cloud infrastructure and on Orange’s own cloud environment.

Nokia’s architecture splits baseband processing functionality across the radio cell sites and data center using its AirScale Cloud Base Station. Time-critical functions are performed at the cell site and connected via Ethernet fronthaul – allowing the operator to use its existing transport network – while centralized software hosted at the data center cost-efficiently performs non real-time functions.

Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN provides the flexibility needed for future services and requirements for 5G, Internet of Things, low latency services and end-to-end slicing.

Piotr Jaworski, CTO of Orange Poland, said: “During this trial, Orange Poland has successfully trialed virtualized RAN architectures in collaboration with Nokia and investigated the impact on network operations. The quality and performance observed during the trial give confidence on the RAN virtualization and is a critical step for us towards 5G.”

Orange Business Services is a global integrator of communications products and services for multinational corporations. It offers integrated communications products and services to global enterprises in cloud computing, unified communications and collaboration; which manage and integrate the complexity of international communications.

Arnaud Vamparys, VP Radio Access Networks and Microwaves of Orange Global, said: “For Orange, RAN virtualization is a critical enabler to deliver a better and more homogeneous customer experience on 4G and future 5G networks, allowing these multi-service networks to simultaneously handle various type of objects with different connectivity needs. The positive outcome of this trial is an important step towards the implementation of this enabler inside our networks in Europe and Africa.”

Nokia Networks is a multinational data networking and telecommunications equipment company headquartered in Espoo, Finland, and is the world’s third-largest telecoms equipment manufacturer, measured by 2017 revenues (after Huawei and Cisco). In USA it competes with Ericsson on building 5G networks for operators.

Alain Biston, head of Mobile Network Business Management at Nokia, said: “This successful live trial of the innovative AirScale Cloud RAN technology is a key milestone in the joint work of Orange and Nokia. Cloud RAN is a key enabler for the coming era of 4G and 5G flexible networks, low-latency services and end-to end slicing, building on a distributed cloud network architecture like our Future X. We have demonstrated that Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN is ready for commercial deployments, helping Orange and other customers to start deploying flexible and agile cloud-based networks.”