Verizon claimed to have hit a milestone in a push to reduce network latency, after achieving full virtualisation of baseband functions on its RAN in a trial with Nokia and Intel.

In a statement, the operator explained baseband functions account for the heaviest portion of computing on the RAN. Virtualising these will make its network hardware agnostic, giving it greater flexibility to use off-the-shelf hardware.

Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s SVP of network planning, said progress virtualising the RAN represents “a significant step” toward edge compute deployments and a “critical” milestone on the road to providing next generation services.

“With a virtualised baseband unit, we will lay the foundation to be able to move computing functionality to the edge of the network and will be able to rapidly respond to customers’ varied latency and computing needs.”

An operator representative recently told Mobile World Live Verizon plans to conduct a greater number of edge computing trials over the course of the next six to twelve months.

The representative said Verizon expects to deploy edge compute technology primarily in urban and industrial areas using a mix of both its own and third-party data centres, but declined to provide a timeline for commercial availability of the technology.

Verizon stated edge computing along with network slicing are core elements in its 5G strategy, where “unimagined latency-dependent” services will be on offer.