Nokia and Korean telco SK Telecom said they have successfully completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) and demonstration of what they call the world’s first 5G 64TRX wireless-based cloud Radio Access Network (vRAN) in Korea.

Both companies plan to start field testing a vRAN in 2022.

The demonstration included the process of virtualizing the baseband based on Nokia’s design, including its comprehensive infrastructure solutions such as NADCM (Nokia AirFrame Data Center Manager), separating hardware and software, and operating each independently. In particular, the network flexibility and performance were tested at the same time by dividing the infrastructure into two separate functions: a cloudified virtual distributed unit (vDU) and a virtual central unit (vCU).

Through this 5G vRAN demonstration, both companies were able to confirm the agile response to computing requirements such as high performance, large capacity and the possibility of rapidly launching new services, Nokia said.

Jongkwan Park, vice president and head of the Infra Technology Office at SK Telecom, said: “Through the verification of 5G cloud RAN technology provided by Nokia, SK Telecom was able to confirm its technological prowess once again. Based on the resilient and flexible 5G network infrastructure and vRAN that can maximize efficiency, we will continue to lead the next-generation communication network services.”

Kevin Ahn, Nokai’s head of Korea, said: “This demonstration once again confirms the leadership of both companies in 5G technology, and serves as an opportunity for full-scale commercialization of 5G vRAN. We will continue to actively cooperate with SK Telecom to quickly introduce market-leading services based on the best 5G network.”

In November 2021, Ericsson announced a partnership with SK Telecom, with the aim of supporting 5G Standalone networks through the deployment of a cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core.

Ericsson and SK Telecom had initially unveiled next-generation cloud-native 5G Core networks technology, architecture, implementation and operations plans in March 2019. The vendor said that this latest cooperation builds on the existing partnership. According to Ericsson, the dual-mode 5G core is deployed on its bare metal solution, known as Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure.

Ericsson had previously provided SK Telecom with 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment and network management system for their commercial 5G network rollout.

SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscriptions, ended November with 9.52 million 5G subscribers, according to the latest available data from the Ministry of Science and ICT. The total number of 5G subscribers in South Korea reached 20.19 million in November 2021, accounting for around 28% of the total 72.57 million mobile subscriptions in the Asian nation.

South Korea was the first country to launch commercial 5G networks in April 2019 and currently has 5G coverage across its 85 cities.

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