Nokia announced a 5G cloud RAN solution will be commercially available later this year following successful trials, a move which further boosts the Finnish vendor’s virtualised infrastructure credentials.

In a statement, Nokia said it completed a series of successful customer trials of its 5G Airscale Cloud Ran set-up, which is based on vRAN2.0, paving the way for initial commercial launches this year and wider availability from 2021.

Work with Japanese operator KDDI, which last month said it was collaborating with Nokia to test its virtualised 5G RAN set-up, contributed to the development.

Nokia explained the cloud system introduced a virtualised Distributed Unit and a fronthaul gateway to deliver a fully cloud and disaggregated 5G base station.

“The solution helps operators to generate revenue from new 5G services as well as to enable flexible end-to-end network slicing, meet IoT requirements and bring overall benefits of cloud computing to RANs.”

Open RAN push
Nokia said the system was “architected” for open RAN, splitting the base station into Radio Unit, Distributed Unit, Radio Access Point, Centralised and open RAN-compliant interfaces between these elements.

A RAN Intelligence controller provides AI and machine learning capabilities.

The commercial launch of the set-up represents a big push by Nokia to promote open RAN, with the technology tipped to enable a major shift from traditional hardware to virtualised infrastructure.

In May, Nokia joined a new open RAN lobby group, as it insisted it would have a role to play in enabling and developing the technology: rival Ericsson is also targeting a major role in the space.

Their interest comes despite the technology being pitched by many as a threat to traditional telecoms suppliers, with open RAN players including Parallel Wireless and Mavenir pushing their own solutions.