Orange Poland and Nokia have together carried out a live trial of cloud-based radio access technology as part of the former's preparations for the arrival of 5G mobile technology.
The trial used radio sites in the city of Chelm, in eastern Poland, while the virtualised part of the baseband ran in a data centre in Lublin, around 70km away. It took place from March to May this year.
The companies used Nokia's AirScale cloud base station, which gave equally strong network performance on Nokia's reference cloud infrastructure and on Orange's own cloud environment, the Finnish equipment maker said.
It noted that a distributed, cloud-based radio access network architecture like its AirScale Cloud RAN can provide capacity where it is needed and in addition prepares the network for the deployment of 5G access technology, with telcos like Orange looking to introduce a distributed cloud-based architecture as part of the move to 5G.
"During this trial, Orange Poland has successfully trialled virtualized RAN architectures in collaboration with Nokia and investigated the impact on network operations," confirmed Piotr Jaworski, CTO of Orange Poland
"The quality and performance observed during the trial give confidence on the RAN virtualization and is a critical step for us towards 5G," he said.
Meanwhile, Arnaud Vamparys, VP Radio Access Networks and Microwaves of Orange Global, noted that work with cloud RAN is key for Orange at group level as well as in Poland.
"The positive outcome of this trial is an important step towards the implementation of this enabler inside our networks in Europe and Africa," he said.
And Nokia also highlighted the wider significance of the trial.
"Cloud RAN is a key enabler for the coming era of 4G and 5G flexible networks, low-latency services and end-to end slicing, building on a distributed cloud network architecture like our Future X," said Alain Biston, head of Mobile Network Business Management at Nokia. "We have demonstrated that Nokia AirScale Cloud RAN is ready for commercial deployments, helping Orange and other customers to start deploying flexible and agile cloud-based networks."