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Mar 27 2019

China’s new city puts 4G/5G cloud-based radio network to the test

Nokia and China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute sign Cloud RAN co-operation MoU. The area of Xiong’An will be used as a dedicated Cloud RAN field trial location to verify Cloud RAN related innovations.

China is well known for thinking big and constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. A project to build a completely new mega-city does both.

By 2035, Xiongan, in North China's Hebei province, will be a green, intelligent city, taking on several of Beijing’s roles and giving a home to many former residents of the capital. Industries such as information technology, biotechnology, materials, modern services and green agriculture will all be hosted in the new city.

Of course, an advanced city needs an advanced communications network and China Unicom recently launched the world’s largest field trial of a 4G/5G cloud-based radio access network. The test network adopts a cloud RAN solution with ten 4G (LTE) and 40 5G base stations, splitting the architecture between Central Units and Distributed Units. In another first, the network puts 4G and 5G on the same cloud infrastructure.

An important test for the whole industry

The network aims to prove the major themes of 5G, including its ability to meet the needs of vertical industries, beyond the usual consumer markets. The Xiongan network trial is designed to achieve its goals by separating software and hardware, ensuring networks can be deployed rapidly and allowing easy upgrades of 5G software.

The cloud architecture also aids the introduction of technologies such as big data analysis and artificial intelligence, allowing intelligent management of 5G air interface resources as well as basic network resources.

Using the test network, China Unicom will fully verify 4G/5G Cloud RAN architecture and key technologies, sharing test results with the industry to help lay a solid foundation for 5G deployment. At the same time, it will explore the combination of radio access network, core network and MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) to create a 5G local end-to-end solution for different vertical industries and promote ICT convergence at the network edge.

Powered by Nokia AirScale

A joint venture between Nokia,  China Unicom´s Network Technology Research Institute and the Hebei branchof China Unicom, the test network is based on Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN, which offers high scalability, as well as rapid innovation and software cycles. It also provides a high degree of operational efficiency, while retaining maximum flexibility to meet unpredictable demand.

Two of the LTE sites run Nokia AirScale cloud base stations as distributed units, while eight LTE sites interwork with 5G sites in Non-Stand-Alone mode. Meanwhile, the 40 5G sites run as Nokia AirScale cloud base station Distributed Units, while both 4G and 5G Central Units are placed on common Nokia AirFrame cloud infrastructure.

The common cloud platform offers full integration between 4G/5G wireless resources, achieves extensive coordination between radio access technologies and improves the efficiency of how network resources are used.

Awards:

GTI Awards 2018: Nokia Cloud RAN was the Winner of Innovative Breakthrough in Mobile Technology Award of GTI Awards 2018. At Mobile World Congress 2019 Nokia Multi-Access Edge Computing was the winner of Innovative Mobile Service and Application Award 2019.

Additional information

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #cloud #5G #LTE #CloudRAN

About Anna-Kaarina Pietilä

Anna-Kaarina Pietilä is responsible for AirScale and AirScale Cloud RAN at Nokia. She enjoys writing blogs about these solutions and about innovative, high-quality software which improve smartphone experience and network capacity. She holds an MA from Åbo Akademi University and University of Turku and is based in Finland.

Tweet me at @annapietil