Verizon, Nokia and Intel this week announced a successful trial of Cloud RAN architecture in Oklahoma City that advances the wireless carrier's virtualized network technology.

The test utilized Nokia's AirScale Cloud Base Station Service — including Intel processors — along with Verizon's existing edge cloud infrastructure.

Nokia officials called the trial the "first milestone" toward Verizon's vRAN 1.0 architecture and said it also advances the companies' work toward vRAN 2.0 with a comprehensive software defined RAN.

The latter, the company said, would bring "everything but the radio network" to the cloud and create the efficiencies needed to accommodate Internet of Things and 5G technologies.

"Virtualization is all about flexibility," said Nokia Mobile Networks President Marc Rouanne. "By putting the radio access network in the cloud we can provide 5G architecture that quickly creates increased capacity in the baseband and scalability for both 4G and 5G networks."

The companies added that the test used commercial off-the-shelf hardware — which showed the system does not require a custom environment — and that the base station ran on Verizon's cloud platform with Ethernet backhaul.

In addition, because the system retained the benefits of cloud centralized RAN and edge cloud distributed RAN deployment models, "real-time and non-real-time functions can be co-deployed deeper in the network."

"Verizon is committed to furthering innovation within the ecosystem by ensuring deployment flexibility," said Bill Stone, the carrier's technology development and planning VP. "Verizon's Intelligent Edge Network, which maximizes this flexibility, will allow faster upgrades, allowing our customers access to the latest technology as quickly as possible."