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5G Cloud RAN

Meet your every radio need with scalability, business agility and operational efficiency

Start your transition to a cloud-based radio network 

An open and programmable Radio Access Network (RAN) enables the introduction of new capabilities for the use of 5G networks. Together with virtualization and network automation, it is expected to result in significant improvements in the way Communications Service Providers (CSPs) manage their networks and deliver new services. Furthermore, it fosters innovation by supporting the introduction of advanced capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). 

Open and programmable RAN promises benefits such as:

  • improved network performance,
  • accelerated time-to market of new services and functions,
  • more flexible and agile networks,
  • CAPEX and OPEX efficiencies.

Cloud RAN provides the flexibility to scale capacity at will, as well as launch and monetize services quickly and meet the required latency. Cloud RAN virtualizes baseband and decouples hardware and software, for them to have independent lifecycles. 

In a fully cloudified Cloud RAN solution both the real-time and non-real-time baseband is virtualized and split into two separated functions: 

  • virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU),
  • virtualized Centralized Unit (vCU).
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Tap into the next big thing with Cloud RAN

Tap into the next big thing with Cloud RAN

To capture the 5G opportunity, CSPs need to have the right strategies in place.

AirScale Cloud RAN

Webscalers choose Nokia’s Cloud RAN

Hyperscalers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are an integral part of the global cloudification, which includes the move to cloud-based radio networks. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are currently building their edge computing relationships with the webscale players, while Nokia is fostering this development as a partner preferred by all three major webscalers.

Our joint activity with Amazon Web Services focuses on onboarding and validating Nokia’s 5G vDU (virtualized distributed unit) on AWS Outposts using Amazon EKS for far edge cloud or on-premises deployments. Another project will examine the implementation of our 5G vCU (virtualized centralized unit) with AWS Outposts, AWS Local Zones, using Amazon EKS as a cloud native deployment. The third part of the collaboration will build a proof of concept for an end-to-end solution with our 5G Cloud RAN and 5G standalone Core network running on AWS, where enterprise end users can leverage 5G for use cases.

The joint project with Google Cloud will integrate Nokia’s 5G vDU and 5G vCU with Google’s edge computing platform, running on Anthos. Our 5G standalone network with vCU and 5G core will also be tested on Google Cloud Anthos platform as a cloud-native deployment.

We will also integrate its 5G RAN with Microsoft Azure 4G/5G core to demonstrate interworking to support enterprise use cases required by Microsoft’s customers. Additionally, we will explore further opportunities to incorporate Nokia Airframe Open Edge server as part of Microsoft’s telco edge strategy.


Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN vRAN2.0 with both virtualized Centralized Unit (vCU for non-real-time L2 and L3) and virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU for L1 and real-time L2 computing).


Red Hat and Nokia collaborate to accelerate 5G RAN technology innovation

As a continuation of RAN innovation, Red Hat and Nokia have successfully demonstrated an end-to-end 5G data call, using Nokia’s 5G Cloud RAN virtualized distributed unit (vDU)…


Wind River and Nokia successfully complete tests

Nokia and Wind River successfully tested Nokia’s 5G AirScale Cloud RAN virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU) on Wind River’s cloud infrastructure.


Nokia and AWS to enable cloud-based 5G radio solutions


Nokia and Google Cloud partner to develop new, cloud-based 5G radio solutions


Nokia partners with Microsoft on cloud solutions for enterprise

Unlock revenue from new low latency 5G services

It is truly prime time for Cloud RAN, which is emerging as the key technology that will enable CSPs get 5G right. As 5G gathers pace, network capabilities and performance demands are increasing. For CSPs to capture business opportunities with new services and technologies, such as immersive services, they need scalability, low latency, high performance and capacity in addition to new operational models.

The prime time for Cloud RAN is now
Phil Marshall
Chief Research Officer, Tolaga Research and Topio Networks

Clearing the path for 5G Cloud RAN 2020

Move to Cloud RAN with a commercially proven solution

World´s first commercial cloud-based 5G RAN

Nokia´s first generation 5G AirScale Cloud RAN vRAN1.0, with virtualized Centralized Unit has been deployed and is carrying commercial traffic since mid-2019 in a large scale deployment, representing the world´s first commercial cloud-based 5G RAN.    

Nokia´s AirScale Cloud RAN vRAN2.0, with both virtualized Centralized Unit and virtualized Distributed Unit, is in trials with commercial deployments starting in 2022.


A giant leap for 5G Cloud RAN

Reduce TCO

Drive simplification, automation and operational efficiency gains:

  • Fast deployment of services
    A fully virtualized 5G base station enables both the virtualized distributed unit (DU) and centralized unit (CU) to run on a general purpose processor platform. New software and services can be introduced more quickly and more easily because service code doesn’t need adapting for proprietary hardware. Time savings mean cost savings.
  • High hardware utilization
    Pooled software enables more cells to be processed on the same data center servers. This more efficient use of processing power allows hardware to be dimensioned according to average traffic loads. The cost of over-dimensioning to meet peak load is simply eliminated.
  • Multi-tenancy resources
    The same physical servers can host different applications and services. Cost savings are achieved by using spare general-purpose compute resources for applications other than RAN.
  • Lower operational costs
    Centralizing baseband functions in the data center reduces the need for radio site visits, cuts the number of hardware platforms needed, consolidates installation and maintenance processes, and lowers radio site leasing costs.
  • Greater automation
    Open interfaces allow integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, enabling the network to automatically optimize itself to meet unpredictable demand in mere minutes or even seconds.

Meet the specific needs of different services

Cloud RAN is the foundation for flexible and dynamic end-to-end network slicing, from RAN across transport to Core. The AirScale Cloud RAN solution offers flexible selection of RAN slices for different use cases and enables independently scalable control and user plane functions, slice isolation and high availability. To optimize things further, the latency  critical slices are processed close to the end user, in the far edge, while other services can be processed in a more centralized location, in the aggregated edge, achieving network efficiency through capacity pooling.

Choose the solution with ultimate deployment flexibility

The 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution supports all architecture options, offering mobile and converged operators with many options when it comes to RAN deployments: vDU and vCU co-located at a central or regional edge cloud; vDU decentralized to an edge or far edge cloud, vDU located even at the cell site. Such ultimate flexibility is very important due to varying topologies and transport network needs even within the same network.

Reuse your existing network assets

Nokia’s 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution is specifically designed to reuse existing network assets. Nokia’s open Fronthaul Gateway solution offers an evolution path for operators to upgrade existing CPRI-based radios to eCPRI-based AirScale 5G Cloud RAN. It can run as a standalone unit or fully integrated with the vDU on an edge optimized Nokia AirFrame Open Edge Server, which is the first x86-based product in the world built and tailored for edge cloud and far edge cloud deployments (indoor/outdoor) of Cloud RAN.

sky diving

How to spend less and do more with Cloud RAN

White paper
Cloud RAN and edge cloud for immersive experiences

Cloud RAN and edge cloud for immersive experiences


Making sense of ORAN and vRAN – Part One

Architected for Open 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, a combination of RU and DU), Centralized Unit (CU), and O-RAN compliant interfaces between these elements.  

Take advantage of AI and ML

We can also run on the same edge platform with Cloud RAN the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) which is a new virtualized 5G optimization technology adding RAN programmability to existing or new RAN to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to optimize the radio and system performance.

Open RAN

Open RAN

Diagram - Piece together business and network agility

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