Nokia unveils AirScale, its 5G radio access play

News

Nokia has used the eve of Mobile World Congress to launch its next generation radio access product, AirScale.

Identified by CEO Rajeev Suri as the successor to its FlexiZone range of products, the vendor will demo the product this week with a pre-standardised air interface.

The cloud-RAN will be able to run all radio access technologies in one base station, as well as integrating carrier-grade Wi-Fi.

By chaining baseband units together, Nokia said networks will be able to build "virtually unlimited" capacity, which will help underpin massive IoT networks.

AirScale uses mobile edge computing on the same servers as the cloud RAN operates on, which Nokia said would allow operators to easily integrate applications that use information from radio networks.

Nokia claimed the product uses 60 percent less energy than its existing radio access platform.

Speaking at Nokia's showpiece presentation on Sunday (21 February) evening, CEO Rajeev Suri said the new product would do for 5G what its FlexiZone range did for previous generations. He said: "When we launched the Flexi, it rocked the radio access world. It was a true groundbreaker for the industry."

Samih Elhage, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: "The world will witness immense changes over the next few years. Broadband traffic will continue to surge as people go beyond video and take advantage of augmented and virtual reality.

"The Internet of Things will see billions of devices connected, and 5G will enable new scenarios such as Industry 4.0, smart cities, e-health and mobile living. Nokia AirScale is designed from the ground up for this new era, while also introducing ground-breaking cloud-based capabilities." 

Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom, said: "It is impossible to predict the full extent of the demands on radio access networks that 5G will impose, but we can say they will be hugely disruptive. And there is no doubt that 5G will be extremely important to consumers, businesses and the economic development of countries.

"It thus becomes imperative for the industry to develop new, agile technologies that operators need to fulfil the 5G promise. By showing real systems, not just concepts, Nokia is clearly at the forefront with its AirScale platform."