Finnish network infrastructure veteran Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is bringing a next-generation radio access network (RAN) platform to market this year, followed by another generation in 2022. Early adopters of Nokia's 5G solutions need not worry -- the cloud-based Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud Ran wireless networking system are designed to reuse and upgrade existing network assets.

What's new?

The first-generation 5G AirScale platform was first installed in a commercial network in early 2019. Nokia commands a 27% global market share in the combined market for 4G and 5G systems, according to management comments in April's first-quarter earnings call.

Nokia has tested its second-generation virtual RAN solutions by completing 5G data calls on a commercial 5G device with an end-to-end system built on Nokia's cloud-based RAN technology. The solution is now ready for installation in real-world wireless network systems.

A cell tower in silhouette against a colorful sunrise.

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vRAN1.0 systems used general-purpose processors to manage the radio access services and data traffic and this vRAN2.0 solution rely distributed units (DU) using hardware acceleration. The next step up, dubbed vRAN3.0, will introduce even more powerful hardware acceleration in the form of graphics processing units such as the Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) Radeon or NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tesla chips. Speeding up the network hardware in this way allows Nokia to support more devices and heavier data traffic flows, all within a flexible cloud-based management framework.

"The next-generation Nokia 5G AirScale Cloud RAN is a true innovation that will transform mobile networks and provide operators with the flexibility they need to meet the customer demands in the evolving 5G era," Nokia president Tommi Uitto said in a prepared statement."Its flexible architecture offers speed, coverage, capacity and low latency as well as the opportunity to generate revenues immediately."