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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.