Verizon Claims 5G Virtualization First

Verizon this week claimed a technology milestone: the first fully virtualized 5G data session in a live network in the U.S.

As game-changing 5G wireless technology is being rolled out across the country, Verizon and other companies are introducing virtualization into the mix by applying it to the Radio Access Network (RAN).

In explaining RAN, Verizon says: "In order for your cell phone to connect to a network or the internet, it connects first through a radio access network (RAN). Radio access networks utilize radio transceivers to connect you to the cloud."

RAN Architecture
[Click on image for larger view.] RAN Architecture (source: TELCOMA).

Because Verizon previously virtualized the network core, virtualizing the RAN resulted in what the company claims is an industry-first: an end-to-end fully virtualized 5G data session in a live network, stretching from the core to the far edge.

As high-speed 5G wireless connectivity provides many revolutionary benefits, virtualization brings its own advantages into the scheme.

Verizon said it "decouples software and hardware functionality enabling the network to be built on general purpose hardware. Using Common Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware leads to greater flexibility and agility in the introduction of new products and services. Instead of adding or upgrading single-purpose hardware, the move to a cloud native, container-based virtualized architecture with standardized interfaces leads to greater flexibility, faster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency in networks."

The company had help in the demonstration effort, stating:

  • Samsung provided its commercial 5G virtualized RAN solution, consisting of a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU), and radio units. The solution can provide mobile operators with improved efficiency, flexibility, and management benefits through the deployment of a software-based 5G radio infrastructure.
  • Intel provided its Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card (Intel FPGA PAC) N3000, Intel Ethernet Network Adapter XXV710 to deliver the processing, acceleration and connectivity requirements, and its FlexRAN software reference architecture.
  • Wind River is providing Verizon with a cloud-native, Kubernetes- and container-based software infrastructure, which delivers ultra-low latency and high availability for national deployment of virtualized 5G RAN. Wind River’s solution is integrated with best-in-class vRAN applications, providing single-pane-of-glass and zero-touch automated management, and network analytics.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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