Automated network slicing–a fully virtualized network infrastructure capable of creating on-demand data pipes that exactly meet the needs of a given application–is a long-term goal of 5G investment. In pursuit of that goal, Verizon recently tested virtualization of the Radio Access Network using Nokia equipment and Intel processors.
Last year Verizon invested in virtualizing its core network, which allows the carrier to swap single-purpose hardware for general purpose boxes, adding flexibility and decreasing cost. In a statement, the carrier characterized using COTS hardware as “lower[ing]the barrier of entry for others in the ecosystem resulting in an acceleration of innovation…”
In the recent test, Verizon said it completed an “over-the-air data session in a fully virtualized RAN trial environment.”
This latest testing builds on earlier mobile edge computing testing done in Houston that saw latency time cut in half.
Verizon was able to cut its network latency in half in a test that combined its 5G Radio Access Network, multi-access edge computing and its virtualized network platform. The company offers a 5G fixed wireless service in Houston and used a centralized RAN facility to test out AI-enabled facial recognition–a latency-sensitive application wherein a camera serves as a sensor and AI software processes the data input.
Verizon SVP of Network Planning Adam Koeppe said RAN virtualization “is a critical piece of providing the next generation of wireless solutions for consumers and enterprises.” He called out applications like massive IoT, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous manufacturing robots and smart cities.
“With a virtualized baseband unit, we will lay the foundation to be able to move computing functionality to the edge of the network and will be able to rapidly respond to customers’ varied latency and computing needs.”
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