Telstra has become the latest telco to sing the praises of virtualised RAN infrastructure.

The Australian incumbent on Monday announced it has carried out its first 5G data call using a range of Ericsson’s cloud-based networking technologies.

The trial, which Telstra and Ericsson claim is the first of its kind to be conducted in the southern hemisphere, was carried out on Telstra’s commercial network on the Gold Coast, Queensland. First and foremost, it involved the deployment of Ericsson’s cloud RAN solution, specifically its cloud native distributed unit (DU) and centralised unit, which in a traditional setup would both be found as hardware elements installed at the cell site. Hosting both the DU and CU at a Telstra local exchange or data centre makes better use of compute resources, resulting in a more efficient, cost-effective network, Ericsson said.


The trial also saw Telstra use Ericsson’s packet-based fronthaul network gateway to connect radios to the centralised cloud RAN infrastructure. In a separate trial earlier this month, Telstra and Ericsson said using the solution achieved downlink efficiency improvements of 93%, and uplink efficiency improvements of 46%.

That’s not all. Telstra also tried out Ericsson’s bare metal infrastructure during the trial. Called Cloud Native Infrastructure Solution (CNIS), it is specifically designed to host cloud native 5G applications either at central data centres or at the edge, and is pitched at CSPs that are perhaps averse to going for a full-on COTS-based solution.

“Telstra’s ongoing partnership with Ericsson has reached another new milestone this week with the first 5G Cloud RAN data call over our commercial network utilising Ericsson’s industry-leading cloud RAN technology. This achievement clears the way for the wider deployment of Ericsson’s cloud RAN technology, which will enable the full benefits of 5G for Telstra’s customers across Australia,” said Iskra Nikolova, Telstra’s network and infrastructure executive, in a statement.

Monday’s announcement comes less than a week after Ericsson got its cloud-networking foot in the door at Verizon. Last Thursday, the US telco trumpeted the deployment of its first Ericsson cloud RAN site. Similarly to Telstra, the Verizon is keen on the flexibility and efficiency that comes with virtualised RAN infrastructure.

“This is one of the greatest benefits of virtualising a network – essentially building programmability into the network,” said a statement from Verizon.


“Networks must serve IoT devices that do very little networking and stay in place, smartphones with infinite opportunities to use data in a highly mobile environment, and complex solutions like augmented reality that require massive computing capabilities on the edge of the network,” the telco continued. “These various network solutions rely on a correlated variety of resources from the network, which until recently have been defined rigidly and manually. Using orchestration and automation capabilities at scale on virtual infrastructure, Verizon automates network configuration changes and resource scaling dynamically based on demand.”

Working with Verizon on cloud RAN represents a bit of a boon for Ericsson, because up until now, Verizon has used software and kit supplied by Samsung. Indeed, Samsung revealed last Friday that Verizon has already deployed more than 10,000 vRAN sites.

“This extensive use of virtualisation allows Verizon to offer its customers new and innovative services and the ability to deliver those services quickly to customers,” Magnus Ojert, SVP of networks at Samsung America, in a blog post. “Samsung’s vRAN enables Verizon to manage its network flexibly, scale more efficiently and save opex with intelligent automation.”

Verizon is on track to deploy more than 20,000 vRAN sites by 2025. It isn’t clear what the split might be between Ericsson and Samsung, but both will doubtless try and carve as big a share as possible of the spoils.


Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the newsletter here.