Vodafone has teamed up with Nokia to trial cloud-based radio access network (RAN) technology to see how it will stack up for the transition from 4G to 5G networks.
During the trial, which occurred at the operator’s testing facility in Italy, Vodafone used Nokia’s AirScale Cloud RAN running on its AirFrame network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure.
By combining cloud RAN with NFV, Vodafone was able to split baseband processing functionality between real-time and non-real-time functions allowing for time-critical functions to be performed close to the edge of the network.
Non-time critical functions were then centralized and virtualized in the NFV infrastructure platform at the end of the RAN. Ethernet-based fronthaul was used to provide connectivity to the virtualized functions.
The trial looked at peak data rates as well as download and upload speeds during a variety of different scenarios on the macro network using high-powered macrocells.
According to Vodafone, the test demonstrated that a cloud RAN-based architecture can provide the same level of service as a conventional LTE network. In addition, the cloud RAN met the operator’s criteria for throughput, capacity, and resiliency while also providing additional flexibility and scalability.
Santiago Tenorio, head of networks, Vodafone Group, said: "Working with Nokia on this trial we have seen how the application of Cloud RAN architecture can help the network react to changing demands quickly. It speeds up the delivery of services and will help with the transition to 5G."