Verizon, which is more than halfway to its goal of rolling out 20,000 virtual radio access networks (vRANs) by 2025, has begun deploying devices from Ericsson.

Radio access networks link mobile devices to the core network. Virtualizing the RAN — decoupling its hardware and software — enables the use of general purpose instead of purpose-built servers in the field. This capability provides many advantages, including the ability to write software that is designed for cloud-native architecture and operation, according to Verizon.

Doing this widely with standardized interfaces throughout the network reduces costs and provides greater flexibility, faster delivery of service and improved efficiency, Verizon says. Now Ericsson will join Samsung in providing this equipment to Verizon. The carrier has deployed more than 10,000 vRAN cellsites.

Ericsson’s virtualized cell site, which also is called the Ericsson Cloud RAN, is comprised of a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU) and radio units. It works across all of Verizon’s frequency bands. Intel and Red Hat contributed to the project.

Verizon says that vRANs are important elements as networks are tasked with supporting Internet of Things (IoT) devices that have minimal networking capabilities and are stationary, as well as smartphones that use large amounts of data in mobile environments and handle complex applications such as the augmented reality that use “massive” amounts of computer resources at the network’s edge.

“These various network solutions rely on a correlated variety of resources from the network, which until recently have been defined rigidly and manually,” the company said in a press release.

“Using orchestration and automation capabilities at scale on virtual infrastructure, Verizon automates network configuration changes and resource scaling dynamically based on demand. This is one of the greatest benefits of virtualizing a network – essentially building programmability into the network.”

In October 2021, Verizon said it achieved upload speeds of 711 Mbps in a 5G trial. Samsung supplied a 28 GHz 5G compact macro and vRAN and vCore technology, along with a smartphone form-factor test device. The test device used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system.

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