Telstra makes its first 5G data call on a commercial network with Ericsson Cloud RAN technology

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The landmark technology trial, which is taking place on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, is the first time Ericsson’s Cloud RAN Radio Access Network (RAN) virtualization technology has been trialed in a commercial network in the southern hemisphere.

Ericsson’s Cloud RAN solution virtualizes the RAN baseband as cloud-native network functions for the CU (centralized unit) and DU (distributed unit). Virtualization of the RAN baseband will provide Telstra with increased flexibility, faster delivery of services, and more efficient network operations.

Telstra’s implementation of Ericsson’s Cloud RAN technology employs an architecture in which both the CU and DU baseband functions are centralized versus approaches that only centralize the CU and leave the DU at the base station site. By placing both the CU and DU functions at a central site such as a Telstra local exchange or data center, Telstra will achieve more efficient utilization of compute resources leading to improved cost and capacity outcomes.

The centralized Cloud RAN architecture deployed by Telstra is facilitated by the recently announced world-first commercial network deployment of Ericsson’s industry-leading packet fronthaul technology based on the Ericsson Router 6673. Packet fronthaul technology allows existing site radios to be connected to the centralized Cloud RAN solution using eCPRI (enhanced CPRI). eCPRI is both more bandwidth efficient and places the radio information in an ethernet-based format that easily connects to cloud infrastructure running the Cloud RAN CU and DU baseband functions. For Telstra, this further enhances the economics of centralizing the virtualized baseband functions.

Another unique aspect of Telstra’s Cloud RAN commercial network trial is that it is the first deployment of the Cloud RAN solution on Ericsson’s Cloud Native Infrastructure Solution (CNIS), – a bare metal infrastructure that is specifically optimized for hosting cloud-native 5G applications both at central data centers and at the edge. The combination of Ericsson’s Cloud RAN running on CNIS as a system-verified solution reduces Telstra’s deployment and operational risks and ensures the best mobile network performance for Telstra’s customers.

Iskra Nikolova, Telstra’s Network and Infrastructure Executive, says: “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 utilizing 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.”

Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson, Australia and New Zealand, says: “Ericsson’s Cloud RAN technology is a key enabler of 5G-as-a-service-based architecture and supports Telstra’s move towards the widespread virtualization and automation of its network infrastructure. This Australia first Cloud RAN trial further demonstrates the industry leading innovation made possible by Ericsson’s ongoing partnership with Telstra while marking the next step in the transformation of Australia’s largest mobile network.”