Following a series of successful customer trials, including end-to-end 5G data calls over sub-6GHz frequency bands, with fully cloudified base station, Nokia has announced (opens in new tab) its next-generation 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution based on vRAN2.0, which will be commercially available in 2020.
Cloud-based RAN solutions such as Nokia’s 5G AirScale Cloud RAN enable operators to generate revenue from new 5G services, and by using vRAN technology, communication service providers (CSPs) are able to deliver new services, and update existing ones, at a fraction of the cost; and according to research from Mavenir, CSPs can expect capex savings of almost 50%, and opex savings of 31%.
“The next-generation Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN is a true innovation that will transform mobile networks and provide operators with the flexibility they need to meet the customer demands in the evolving 5G era,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Its flexible architecture offers speed, coverage, capacity and low latency as well as the opportunity to generate revenues immediately.”
Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN
Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN has been architected for Open RAN (O-RAN), splitting the base station into Radio Unit (RU), Distributed Unit (DU), Radio Access Point (RAP, combination of RU and DU), Centralized Unit (CU), and O-RAN compliant interfaces between these elements. It also includes the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) concept to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to optimize the radio and system performance.
“Cloud RAN has the potential to fundamentally transform mobile networks, making them more agile and dynamic and allowing operators to be more nimble in activating new services and revenue streams,” explained Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst at GlobalData. “Nokia has been more proactive and consistent in driving Cloud RAN technology than its peers, and the launch of its fully cloudified 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution is only the latest example of its commitment.”
Nokia’s first generation 5G AirScale Cloud RAN based on vRAN1.0, which has a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), has been in commercial operation on a mmWave network in the US since early 2019. And Nokia’s new vRAN2.0 solution introduces a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU) as well as a Fronthaul Gateway.
And with a fully cloudified vCU and vDU, Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN brings the overall benefits of cloud computing familiar from IT and Core networks to RAN: pooling, scalability, elasticity, agility, uniformity, and automation. Operators can also deploy other network functions and services at the edge, on top of the Cloud RAN deployment. For example, this can be used for Mobile or Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) implementations that benefit from the proximity of content and processing close to the point of use.