Posted: July 14, 2015

Alcatel-Lucent and China Mobile, have conducted the industry’s first field trial of a virtualized radio access network-based architecture based on network functions virtualization (NFV) technology.

The trial – carried out at Beijing’s Tisinghua University – demonstrated the flexibility, scalability, cost and energy-efficiency of Alcatel-Lucent’s vRAN and NFV technologies for meeting the dynamically changing demands for access from an ever increasing number of applications and devices, people and machines. This is also an important step in the path towards 5G networks.

It is expected that the Internet of Things and millions of people connecting to the Internet for the first time will place huge demands on mobile networks over the coming years, with data traffic predicted to increase almost tenfold between 2014 and 2019 . To manage this increase, China Mobile is preparing for the evolution to 5G, which promises greater network convergence, better spectral efficiency, support for more users, higher data rates and a more consistent user experience.

In the trial Alcatel-Lucent’s vRAN technology was deployed throughout the 442 hectares of Beijing’s Tisinghua University campus, one of the leading universities in China with approximately 57,000 students and teachers. The trial provided both indoor and outdoor coverage and demonstrated the flexibility of the vRAN network, including its ability to dynamically scale network resources in response to traffic demands by the users across the campus.

Some Key Facts:

  • Alcatel-Lucent is the first vendor to provide an operational vRAN solution in a campus environment supporting large numbers of users.
  • Alcatel-Lucent’s vRAN technology:
    • offers the ability to flexibly scale and perform load balancing and real-time migration across network resources to allow service providers like China Mobile to lower costs.
    • allows for increased spectral efficiency with less interference – especially for heterogeneous networks built with multiple radios and radio technologies.
    • enables enhanced cell site coordination to increase network performance and the capability to host latency sensitive applications at the edge.
  • By deploying an NFV-based RAN platform, service providers can lay the foundation for supporting multiple access technologies, such as LTE, LTE-Advanced and Wi-Fi, while providing an evolution path to 5G and accelerating time-to-market for new, revenue-generating services.
  • Since the China Mobile Research Institute introduced the concept of C-RAN to the industry five years ago, China Mobile and Alcatel Lucent have worked closely to develop innovative technology for future radio access networks. Joint work in NFV, and particularly on the vRAN, will help operators to smoothly evolve and meet growing customer demands with a more efficient and effective network structure.

Alcatel-Lucent has proven experience in both wireless networks and virtualization with a virtualized radio network controller (vRNC) solution in commercial service for more than a year, and has already announced virtualization of a wide range of network functions, including the evolved packet core (vEPC), and IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS), Content Delivery Network (vCDN) and service routing (VSR).

Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated its vRAN solution at Mobile World Congress 2015. Its NFV leadership is underpinned by the participation of the CloudBand NFV platform  in over 30 customer projects, an NFV ecosystem of over 60 members and extensive Nuage Networks SDN capabilities – including the launch of the Virtualized Networks Services (VNS) and the Virtulization Services Assurance Platform. In May 2015, Alcatel-Lucent announced the launch of a carrier SDN platform that unifies service automation with network optimization – the Network Services Platform.

Following the successful field trial at Beijing’s Tisinghua University, Alcatel-Lucent will demonstrate the vRAN platform at Mobile World Congress Shanghai between July 15 and 17, 2015. The demonstrations will include the NFV-based RAN and the wireless dual site solution based on the convergence with wireline. The demonstration further underlines Alcatel-Lucent’s leading position in wireless NFV and its continuous focus on the evolution of wireless networks to accelerate industry adoption of next-generation technologies.

Dr. Chih-Lin I, Chief Scientist of China Mobile Research Institute said: “The vRAN technology will allow us to deliver new efficiencies across our network as our customers’ data demands change and more devices connect to our network. We are interested to see how the deployment of Alcatel-Lucent’s vRAN will help us to smoothly evolve our networks to meet these demands.”

Glenn Booth Senior Vice President and General Manger of Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE Business Unit said: “Alcatel-Lucent is committed to delivering the latest innovations that enable our customers to get the most out of their LTE networks and enable a smooth path to 5G. This trial is a prime example of how we are working with customers to develop, test and deploy networks with the highest performance and efficiencies and the lowest costs.”

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