TIM has held a field demonstration of vRAN in Saluzzo to show how the technology can improve network quality and efficiency.
Trials of the technology had been held in February this year, with plans for a 2016 deployment.
The operator said the rollout of the architecture, which was held in partnership with vRAN vendor Altiostar, represented an "important transformation" of its mobile access network. It said it was now able to offer LTE-Advanced functionalities by coordinating signals through a centralised and virtualised infrastructure.
This virtual server hardware sits in Turn, more than 60 kilometres away from the Saluzzo antennas. The operator said the success of the field trial showed how base stations can be coordinated at considerable distance and without affecting connection and performance. TIM said the likes of ethernet fronthauling were used in the demonstration.
The operator added that third party algorithms could be used to enable the efficient management of increasing mobile data rates through self organising networks and automatic network configuration.
In a statement, the operator said: "With this new technological finishing line crossed, TIM confirms its leadership in the innovation of superfast broadband networks for the purpose of improving the quality of digital services on the go, for maximum customer satisfaction. Virtual RAN in fact constitutes a further element in the evolution to 5G, in response to the growing demand for superfast broadband on the move."
Speaking to Mobile Europe earlier this year, TIM Head of Engineering Gabriela Styf Sjoman described current network configurations as monstrously inefficient, which was why it was exploring automated networks.
She said: "“[The RAN] needs to be virtualised, because that’s when we really achieve dynamic allocation, and fully automated distribution of resources. The customer experience and financial benefits are also much more attractive.”