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SK Telecom and Nokia claim to have deployed the world's first cloud-based SDRAN (Software-Defined RAN) - also known as Cloud RAN - in a commercial network. They say that, by taking advantage of virtualized functions it is able to deliver new network scalability and elasticity, enhancing quality of service and network stability.

SDRAN enables key mobile communication network functions to be implemented in software applications running in a virtualized environment on general-purpose servers in a data centre.

This enables network capacity to be scaled more rapidly and for multiple connectivity scenarios to be efficiently deployed without immediate additional investments in transport or baseband capacity.

According to SK Telekom, by applying general IT technologies to an interface as well as base station processing, the new technology is expected to accelerate 5G network innovation that evolves beyond All IP toward All IT.

'SDRAN will be able to offer a variety of third party edge services in connection with MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) that provide localized communication services,' SK Telekom says. 'And, since the network is implemented by software, it is easier and quicker to add new network functions. This would significantly shorten the time for delivering new technologies to customers.'

Frank Weyerich, head of Mobile Networks products at Nokia said: 'This is a major milestone for Nokia; together with SK Telecom, we have for the first time implemented our AirScale Cloud RAN technology in a commercial network. We are paving the way towards 5G, and cloud-based radio networks delivering the scalability and flexibility required to allow operators such as SK Telecom to meet the future data demands of customers, enabling new levels of user experience at minimal cost and maximum operational efficiency.'