Cloud-RAN (C-RAN) architecture tested by Vodafone and Nokia will pave the way for the operator’s transition from 4G to 5G and provide a platform for widespread IoT deployments, according to a statement from the companies.

Trials of Nokia’s AirScale Cloud RAN platform conducted at a Vodafone R&D site in Italy assessed the suitability of C-RAN to provide the same service level as existing RAN architecture used for the company’s LTE networks. The tests also evaluated the potential added efficiencies and benefits associated with deploying cloud technology, which Nokia stated includes improved scalability and flexibility.

Vodafone compared the performance of Nokia’s platform, which the vendor markets as being 5G-ready, against peak data rates, and assessed download and upload speeds. The two companies will continue to investigate the viability of the platform with the ultimate aim of deploying it in Vodafone’s commercial network.

Operators around the world have steadily increased their investment in C-RAN technology over recent years, with initial deployments taking place in China and Japan. Earlier this year, analysts at research company IHS forecast the C-RAN market would be worth $12 billion by 2020, up from $5 billion last year.

The company said growth would be driven by 5G rollouts in China and Japan, and also early-stage deployments in other developed telecoms markets including Europe and North America.

Santiago Tenorio, head of networks at Vodafone Group, said the trial with Nokia proved the ability of C-RAN to “help the network react to changing demands quickly. It speeds up the delivery of services and will help with the transition to 5G.”