Nokia, KDDI trial fully virtualised 5G cloud RAN

Aiming to add further support for its operator clients migrating to the next-generation infrastructure, communications technology supplier Nokia has revealed that it is working with leading Japanese mobile operator KDDI on a proof of concept (PoC) of a fully virtualised cloud 5G radio access network (RAN).

The planned lab-based PoC will use Nokia’s AirScale All-in-Cloud BTS solution to enable KDDI to research how flexible, virtualised radio network technology can support the diversifying network performance requirements in the 5G era.

AirScale All-in-Cloud BTS is a fully cloudified 5G BTS, placing both the real-time and non-real-time baseband in the cloud. Virtualised real-time baseband processing takes place at the far edge of the network to meet extreme latency requirements and provide the ability to scale to meet demand. It is part of Nokia’s broader Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN solution, which offers a mix of local and cloud-based processing.

AirScale All-in-Cloud BTS will see use in the planned PoC to provide a flexible network configuration of a base station virtualisation and enable the provision of an optimal 5G network. KDDI launched commercial 5G services in March 2020 and is pursuing a policy of collaborating with global companies to incorporate new ideas and technologies into its 5G network.

The Japanese operator has been working closely with Nokia on this PoC as well as 5G core standalone network trials. In February 2020, KDDI completed a trial of the 5G core standalone (SA) network, using the Finnish firm’s AirGile cloud-native core system. The technology can be rolled out in a traditional network environment or a cloud environment and is fully compliant with 3GPP Release 15 5G core functions. The test was conducted independently of previous generations’ mobile network architecture.

Nokia’s Cloud RAN is already running commercial traffic in the world’s first cloud-based 5G network in North America, with 5G AirScale Cloud BTS which virtualises the non-real-time functions. Nokia is working on an increasing number of Cloud RAN PoCs and trials with its global customer base.

The AirScale All-in-Cloud BTS solution is said to support ultra-low latency 5G services, meets IoT requirements and enables flexible end-to-end network slicing. It also offers the additional coverage and capacity of 5G and reduces a mobile operator’s total cost of ownership through simplification, automation and operational efficiency.

“The 5G era will bring with incredible opportunities for businesses and consumers alike, but it will place increasing demand on the networks as complexity increases and data traffic explodes,” said Ari Kynaslahti, head of mobile networks product management at Nokia.

“KDDI will be able to use virtualised networks to rapidly respond to its customers’ varied requirements. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with them in the pursuit of virtualised network best practices and in preparing for a new decade of communication technology.”

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