Ericsson looks to the cloud for increased RAN flexibility

Cloud-based radio access network for communications service providers regarded as offering more versatility to network buildouts as a complement to existing purpose-built 5G networks and addressing a variety of 5G use cases

With diversity of supply a watchword in communications provision, and software-defined platforms encroaching rapidly into the world of telecoms, Ericsson has announced Cloud RAN (radio access network), designed to enable communications service providers (CSPs) to add greater flexibility and versatility to their networks.

Putting contest into the launch, Ericsson said that as the telecoms industry deploys 5G networks around the globe, technologies such as automation and virtualisation, with Cloud RAN specifically, will play a key role in future network evolution.

These technologies, it said, will be the catalyst for more openness in networks, with cloud technology offering new innovative alternatives for RAN deployment that complement existing tried and trusted solutions.  

The cloud-native Cloud RAN solution is designed to handle compute functionality in the RAN, complementing purpose-built baseband offerings in the Ericsson Radio System portfolio to give service providers an optimal choice for any deployment scenario and need. It is engineered for providing network capabilities for both large-scale and centralised 5G deployments.

Given that virtualisation and multi-domain orchestration will also create a foundation for future RAN openness, Cloud RAN by Ericsson is designed to support Service Management and Orchestration architecture including non real-time RAN Intelligent Controller (Non-RT RIC), in line with O-RAN interfaces.

Ericsson Cloud RAN will be released in stages, matching the service providers’ journey to complement their purpose-built 5G networks. The first stage will provide the foundation, offering a system-verified solution for 5G low band that will enable an easy transition to a virtualised RAN using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms.

The first stage includes Ericsson’s Cloud RAN application software – Cloud RAN DU and Cloud RAN CU – enabling a 5G network architecture. It also includes new radio gateways, enabling a full utilisation of the installed base of remote radios, making them fully compatible with Cloud RAN.

These products set the foundation for future mid-band roll outs. Ericsson Cloud RAN is fully compatible with the Ericsson Radio System portfolio, and supports Ericsson Spectrum Sharing and 5G standalone and non-standalone. The first stage of Cloud RAN by Ericsson will be available in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Ericsson believes that the solution will allow service providers to address new business opportunities and diverse 5G use cases for indoor, industry, enterprise, stadiums and beyond.

It adds that by using its experience in designing and deploying cloud core networks, as well as in service management and orchestration worldwide, the offering opens the door for CSPs to use web-scale technology and benefit from cloud-native design from application to infrastructure. According to Ericsson, this will bring greater scalability and faster time-to-market for developers and enterprises to innovate new services.

Commenting on the launch, Joe Madden, chief analyst at telecoms analysis firm Mobile Experts, said: “Ericsson is launching innovations in Cloud RAN technology, adding to its strong networks portfolio with open high-level APIs [application programming interfaces] to enable improvements to customer experience and reductions in total cost of ownership related to network automation.

“Its release of the new Cloud RAN DU and Cloud RAN CU achieves a combination of high radio performance and flexibility.”

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice-president and head of business area networks at Ericsson, said: “5G is a platform for open innovation. By empowering a larger ecosystem of developers and industries, we can co-create and bring new cloud innovations to the 5G space.

“With Cloud RAN by Ericsson, we will help our customers evolve their networks with future-proof technology while maximising their network investments today.”

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