Nokia inks RAN collaboration with leading cloud providers

Google, Microsoft Azure and AWS link up with comms tech giant to utilise cloud and open radio access network technology to develop new customer-focused 5G use cases

Nokia has signed technology agreements with the leading cloud providers to research and enable cloud radio access network (vRAN) and Open RAN (O-RAN) technologies, market-ready 4G and 5G private wireless use cases and cloud-based 5G radio systems.

With Amazon Web Services (AWS), Nokia is pursuing a strategy of collaboration to extend the reach of its vRAN technologies to support 5G deployments and the development of new use cases. The trials, to be conducted at Nokia’s facilities, will aim to develop proofs of concept to explore and enable vRAN and related technologies such as O-RAN to support the development of new customer-focused 5G technology.

Engineering teams from both companies will research how the combination of Nokia’s RAN, O-RAN, vRAN and edge solutions can operate seamlessly with AWS Outposts. The collaboration will look at how communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises with 5G connectivity can utilise AWS across the topology of the mobile network.

The intention is for operators to be able to simplify the network virtualisation and platform layers for the core and RAN network functions from the cloud. It is also intended to enable enterprises to achieve their desired business outcomes for new 5G use cases developed by AWS ISV partners.

Teaming with Microsoft, Nokia will attempt to develop new market-ready 4G and 5G private wireless use cases for enterprises. The collaboration will combine Nokia’s vRAN technologies with Microsoft Azure cloud-based services and developer ecosystem to drive end-user functionality via new business cases.

The project, which will run in three stages, will see Nokia combine its mobile network offerings including vRAN, O-RAN, radio access controller (RIC) and multi-access edge cloud (MEC) with the Azure Private Edge Zone.

The Azure Private Edge Zone is designed to enable data processing close to the end-user, addressing ultra-low-latency, high-throughout 5G-based applications such as real-time robotics, mixed reality or immersive gaming. The initiative aims to achieve a better performance and end-user experiences for third-party app developers via the Azure ecosystem when exposed to the network.

With Google Cloud, Nokia will develop new, cloud-based 5G radio systems. The companies will collaborate on joint solutions combining Nokia’s RAN, O-RAN, vRAN and edge cloud technologies with Google’s edge computing platform and applications ecosystem. The collaboration is intended to lead to the development of technology and use cases to solve key 5G scenarios for businesses worldwide.

The initial collaboration, already under way at Nokia’s Espoo headquarters, will pursue various workstreams. The first, which will focus on vRAN, will integrate Nokia’s 5G vDU (virtualised distributed unit) and 5G vCU (virtualised centralised unit) with Google’s edge computing platform, running on Anthos. Nokia’s 5G standalone network with vCU and 5G core will also be tested on Google Cloud Anthos platform as a cloud-native deployment.

Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said: “Open collaboration is key to the development of new and innovative high-value 5G use cases that will equip our customers with the tools they need for digital transformation. This is part of Nokia’s continued commitment to leading an open mobile future, making it simple for our customers to take advantage of the 5G world helping to drive it forward.

“Our service provider customers will benefit greatly from this collaboration, with more choice and flexibility to efficiently deploy and orchestrate 5G networks. This will ultimately help our customers deliver 5G services on the network edge, providing multiple options of cloud-based solutions to pave the way forward.”

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