SK Telecom and Nokia deploy first commercial cloud RAN
Tue 13 Sep 2016
South Korea’s SK Telecom and Nokia have announced the launch of the world’s first commercial cloud-based Radio Access Network (RAN) in a bid to accelerate mobile and 5G innovation.
The software-defined offering, or SDRAN, is a cloud-enabled RAN and base station, which will allow for traditional networking functions to be deployed over a standard IT server.
The companies claim in this week’s release that leveraging virtualisation in mobile networking will deliver huge operational potential, including increased scalability and elasticity, enhanced quality of service and network stability. For example, the SDRAN features will include functional split capacity between real-time and non-real-time processing functions, and automatic error detection and recovery.
SK Telecom and Nokia explained that the open architecture offered by the software-defined system will allow them to offer a range of third party edge services, providing localised communication solutions. As the network is fully implemented by software, they added that it will be both easier and faster to add new network functions – significantly reducing the time it takes to deliver new mobile technologies to customers.
‘Network innovation through convergence of telecom and IT is an urgent task to deal with explosive growth of data traffic. SK Telecom will continue to develop innovative technologies like SDRAN to lead the evolution toward next-generation network,’ commented Park Jin-hyo, head of SK Telecom’s Network R&D centre.
A recent report into cloud-based RAN suggested that global spending in the approach will surpass $7 billion by the end of 2016. It noted that the technology would soon become the preferred choice for deploying future mobile networks for both macro and small cell coverage requirements.
The study also found that the cloud RAN market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 20% over the next four years.
Global operators including China Mobile, Orange, LG Uplus, Samsung and Verizon, are all already investing in the technology, but these are generally limited to trials and demonstrations. With the race to 5G however, this investment is expected to boom over the coming years, with over $1 billion of all cloud-based RAN investment directed at advancing 5G networks by the end of 2020.