Nokia, Etisalat by e& complete first Middle East Cloud RAN trial

Benchmark in key, strategic territory for communications in trial of cloud-based radio access network technology using In-Line acceleration realised by leading regional operator’s network

The Middle East and Asia (MEA) has recently become a hothouse for innovation in advanced communications, and in the latest example of this growing trend, Nokia and Etisalat by e& (Etisalat) have announced they have successfully completed the first trial of Cloud RAN in the MEA region, aiming to enable an enhanced 5G experience for those using existing mid-band carrier spectrum in the n78 (3.5GHz) band over its 5G standalone network.

Nokia said the successful completion of an end-to-end Cloud RAN L3 data call – using In-Line acceleration with HPE realised in Etisalat by e&’s network – demonstrates the flexibility of Nokia’s Cloud RAN service using such an accelerator architecture. In October 2023, the Finnish tech firm teamed with compatriot operator Elisa to announce what they said was the mobile industry’s first trial of Cloud RAN powered by In-Line acceleration.

The trial is also said to mark a significant milestone in Etisalat by e&’s cloudification ambitions. It saw Nokia’s virtualised Distributed Unit (vDU) and virtualised Centralised Unit (vCU) on the HPE ProLiant DL110 Gen11 server utilising In-Line acceleration that is said to provide unique benefits in terms of power efficiency, scalability, flexibility, feature parity, native cloud capability, lower TCO and ease of integration into any server and cloud environment. The HPE ProLiant DL110 high-density Telco server supports up to three Nokia RAN accelerator cards in a 1U platform.

Marwan Bin Shakar, senior vice-president of access network development at Etisalat by e&, said: “We are committed to technological innovations that directly impact our customers and pave the way for revolutionising the industry. As part of our latest collaboration, Nokia’s Cloud RAN solution will enhance our 5G mobile broadband network by combining the power of cloud computing with the flexibility of radio access networks. It’s the first in the region, and paves the way for enhanced connectivity and service delivery, ultimately providing end-users with a more robust and responsive 5G experience.”

Furthermore, the trial is claimed to offer further evidence of the firm’s anyRAN approach, which aims to guarantee the feature performance consistency of Cloud RAN with purpose-built RAN while enabling more choice for operators to build Cloud RAN networks. The service aims to offer the ability to create virtualised networks with specific performance characteristics tailored to different applications’ needs that Nokia says will play a pivotal role in enhancing sustainability efforts for Industry 4.0, enterprise and private networks to enrich Etisalat’s portfolio offering and further provide flexibility in their choice of cloud infrastructure software, hardware and technology suppliers.

“This important trial with Etisalat by e& highlights the maturity of our anyRAN approach using Cloud RAN with In-Line accelerator architecture,” said Mark Atkinson, head of RAN at Nokia.

“Nokia’s approach ensures performance consistency between Cloud RAN and purpose-built RAN, and provides our customers with more choice and flexibility. Our solution will empower Etisalat by e& to meet diverse market demands swiftly, delivering a future-proof 5G network that will enable innovative services through dynamic network slicing and automation.”

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