Showing posts with label C-RAN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label C-RAN. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 September 2016

5G Fronthaul: Crosshaul & XHaul

I have written about Fronthaul as part of C-RAN in this blog as well as in the Small Cells blog. I am also critical of the C-RAN concept now that the Baseband Units (BBU) have become small enough to go on the cell cite. I have expressed this view openly as can be seen in my tweet below.



While I am critical of the C-RAN approach, there are many vendors and engineers & architects within these vendors who are for or against this technology. I am going to leave the benefits and drawbacks of C-RAN in light of new developments (think Moore's law) for some other day.

The above picture from my earlier post explains the concept of Fronthaul and Backhaul for anyone who may not be aware. As data speeds keep on increasing with 4G, 4.5G, 4.9G, 5G, etc. it makes much more sense to use Fiber for Fronthaul. Dark fiber would be a far better choice than a lit one.

One thing that concerned me was what happens in case of MIMO or massive MIMO in 5G. Would we need multiple Fronthaul/Fibre or just a single one would do. After having some discussions with industry colleagues, looks like a single fiber is enough.

This picture above from an NTT presentation illustrates how WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) can be used to send different light wavelengths over a single fiber thereby avoiding the need to have multiple of these fibers in the fronthaul.


There are 2 different projects ongoing to define 5G Fronthaul & Backhaul.

The first of these is 5G Crosshaul. Their website says:

The 5G-Crosshaul project aims at developing a 5G integrated backhaul and fronthaul transport network enabling a flexible and software-defined reconfiguration of all networking elements in a multi-tenant and service-oriented unified management environment. The 5G-Crosshaul transport network envisioned will consist of high-capacity switches and heterogeneous transmission links (e.g., fibre or wireless optics, high-capacity copper, mmWave) interconnecting Remote Radio Heads, 5GPoAs (e.g., macro and small cells), cloud-processing units (mini data centres), and points-of-presence of the core networks of one or multiple service providers. This transport network will flexibly interconnect distributed 5G radio access and core network functions, hosted on in-network cloud nodes, through the implementation of: (i) a control infrastructure using a unified, abstract network model for control plane integration (Crosshaul Control Infrastructure, XCI); (ii) a unified data plane encompassing innovative high-capacity transmission technologies and novel deterministic-latency switch architectures (Crosshaul Packet Forwarding Element, XFE).

The second is 5G XHaul. Their website says:

5G-XHaul proposes a converged optical and wireless network solution able to flexibly connect Small Cells to the core network. Exploiting user mobility, our solution allows the dynamic allocation of network resources to predicted and actual hotspots. To support these novel concepts, we will develop:
  • Dynamically programmable, high capacity, low latency, point-to-multipoint mm-Wave transceivers, cooperating with Sub-6 GHz systems;
  • A Time Shared Optical Network offering elastic and fine granular bandwidth allocation, cooperating with advanced passive optical networks;
  • A software-defined cognitive control plane, able to forecast traffic demand in time and space, and the ability to reconfigure network components.
The well balanced 5G-XHaul consortium of industrial and research partners with unique expertise and skills across the constituent domains of communication systems and networks will create impact through:
  • Developing novel converged optical/wireless architectures and network management algorithms for mobile scenarios;
  • Introduce advanced mm-Wave and optical transceivers and control functions;
  • Support the development of international standards through technical and technoeconomic contributions.
The differences are summarised in the document below:



It remains to be seen if C-RAN will play a big role in 5G. If yes how much of Crosshaul and XHaul will help.

Further reading:



Sunday, 21 February 2016

Possible 5G Network Architecture Evolution


Came across this interesting Network Architecture evolution Roadmap by Netmanias. Its embedded below and available to download from the Netmanias website.



Saturday, 21 November 2015

'Mobile Edge Computing' (MEC) or 'Fog Computing' (fogging) and 5G & IoT


Picture Source: Cisco

The clouds are up in the sky whereas the fog is low, on the ground. This is how Fog Computing is referred to as opposed to the cloud. Fog sits at the edge (that is why edge computing) to reduce the latency and do an initial level of processing thereby reducing the amount of information that needs to be exchanged with the cloud.

The same paradigm is being used in case of 5G to refer to edge computing, which is required when we are referring to 1ms latency in certain cases.

As this whitepaper from Ovum & Eblink explains:

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC): Where new processing capabilities are introduced in the base station for new applications, with a new split of functions and a new interface between the baseband unit (BBU) and the remote radio unit (RRU).
...
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is an ETSI initiative, where processing and storage capabilities are placed at the base station in order to create new application and service opportunities. This new initiative is called “fog computing” where computing, storage, and network capabilities are deployed nearer to the end user.

MEC contrasts with the centralization principles discussed above for C-RAN and Cloud RAN. Nevertheless, MEC deployments may be built upon existing C-RAN or Cloud RAN infrastructure and take advantage of the backhaul/fronthaul links that have been converted from legacy to these new centralized architectures.

MEC is a long-term initiative and may be deployed during or after 5G if it gains support in the 5G standardization process. Although it is in contrast to existing centralization efforts, Ovum expects that MEC could follow after Cloud RAN is deployed in large scale in advanced markets. Some operators may also skip Cloud RAN and migrate from C-RAN to MEC directly, but MEC is also likely to require the structural enhancements that C-RAN and Cloud RAN will introduce into the mobile network.

The biggest challenge facing MEC in the current state of the market is its very high costs and questionable new service/revenue opportunities. Moreover, several operators are looking to invest in C-RAN and Cloud RAN in the near future, which may require significant investment to maintain a healthy network and traffic growth. In a way, MEC is counter to the centralization principle of Centralized/Cloud RAN and Ovum expects it will only come into play when localized applications are perceived as revenue opportunities.

And similarly this Interdigital presentation explains:

Extends cloud computing and services to the edge of the network and into devices. Similar to cloud, fog provides network, compute, storage (caching) and services to end users. The distinguishing feature of Fog reduces latency & improves QoS resulting in a superior user experience

Here is a small summary of the patents with IoT and Fog Computing that has been flied.



Saturday, 5 September 2015

HetNets and Ultra Dense Networks



When I did my 5G presentation back in Feb., I explained about Ultra Dense Networks (UDN) that will be a main feature of future traffic hotspots. I have also blogged about Qualcomm having tested 1000 small cells in a square km. Some operators are already running out of spectrum with traditional deployments in hotspots. They are already making their cells smaller (but not yet using Small cells) thereby having less users in each cell. This may not be enough so the approach likely to be taken is:

  • Offload to WiFi
  • Aggregate WiFi with LTE (different approaches including LTE-U, LAA and LWA)
  • Use Small cells and C-RAN
  • Multi technology Carrier Aggregation
  • Beamforming (and massive MIMO)


The above picture is from a presentation (embedded below) by ZTE in the LTE World Summit. Its a good attempt to show different technologies, the year they are expected to go mainstream, whether they are TDD or FDD and if they will form part of 5G.

Anyway, here is the presentation. There is some interesting information on C-RAN, D-RAN results and fronthaul too.



Sunday, 12 April 2015

LTE-Hetnet (LTE-H) a.k.a. LTE Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)


We have talked about the unlicensed LTE (LTE-U), re-branded as LTE-LAA many times on this blog and the 3G4G Small Cells blog. In fact some analysts have decided to call the current Rel-12 non-standardised Rel-12 version as LTE-U and the standardised version that would be available as part of Release-13 as LTE-LAA.

There is a lot of unease in the WiFi camp because LTE-LAA may hog the 5GHz spectrum that is available as license-exempt for use of Wi-Fi and other similar (future) technologies. Even though LAA may be more efficient as claimed by some vendors, it would reduce the usage for WiFi users in that particular spectrum.

As a result, some vendors have recently proposed LTE/WiFi Link Aggregation as a new feature in Release-13. Alcatel-Lucent, Ruckus Wireless and Qualcomm have all been promoting this. In fact Qualcomm has a pre-MWC teaser video on Youtube. The demo video is embedded as follows:



The Korean operator KT was also involved in demoing this in MWC along with Samsung and Qualcomm. They have termed this feature as LTE-Hetnet or LTE-H.

The Korean analyst firm Netmanias have more detailed technical info on this topic.

Link aggregation by LTE-H demonstrated at MWC 2015 (Source: Netmanias)

As can be seen the data is split/combined in PDCP layer. While this example above shows the practical implementation using C-RAN with Remote Radio Head (RRH) and BaseBand Unit (BBU) being used, the picture at the top shows LTE Anchor in eNodeB. There would be a need for an ideal backhaul to keep latency in the eNodeB to minimum when combining cellular and WiFi data.

Comparison of link level Carrier Aggregation technologies (Source: Netmanias)

The above table shows comparison between the 3 main techniques for increasing data rates through aggregation; CA, LTE-U/LAA and LTE-H/LWA. While CA has been part of 3GPP Release-10 and is available in more of less all new LTE devices, LTE-U and LTE-H is new and would need modifications in the network as well as in the devices. LTE-H would in the end provide similar benefits to LTE-U but is a safer option from devices and spectrum point of view and would be a more agreeable solution by everyone, including the WiFi community.

A final word; last year we wrote a whitepaper laying out our vision of what 4.5G is. I think we put it simply that in 4.5G, you can use WiFi and LTE at the same time. I think LTE-H fulfills that vision much better than other proposals.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

NFV and 5G compatibility issues

There was an interesting discussion on Twitter that has been storified by Keith Dyer. Lets start by having a quick look at the C-RAN architecture that features in the discussion.


There are couple of excellent C-RAN presentations for anyone interested. This one by EE (with 9K+ views) and this from Orange (with 19K+ views).

Anyway, here is the story:


For anyone interested in exploring the discussion further, The Mobile Network has a more detailed comments here.

There are also an interesting article worth reading:

Saturday, 28 June 2014

EE: The Implications of RAN Architecture Evolution for Transport Networks


Here is a presentation by Andy Sutton, EE from the recent LTE World Summit 2014. Unfortunately the event was too big to be present in all presentations but in his own words, "As always the bullet points don’t tell the full story as there’s considerable narrative that goes with this, however it does stress some major themes."

Slides embedded below, can be downloaded from Slideshare:


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Case study of SKT deployment using the C-RAN architecture


Recently I came across this whitepaper by iGR, where they have done a case study on the SKT deployment using C-RAN. The main point can be summarised from the whitepaper as follows:

This approach created several advantages for SK Telecom – or for any operator that might implement a similar solution – including the:

  • Maximum re-use of existing fiber infrastructure to reduce the need for new fiber runs which ultimately reduced the time to market and capital costs.
  • Ability to quickly add more ONTs to the fiber rings so as to support additional RAN capacity when needed.
  • Support of multiple small cells on a single fiber strand. This is critical to reducing costs and having the flexibility to scale.
  • Reduction of operating expenses.
  • Increased reliability due to the use of fiber rings with redundancy.
  • Support for both licensed and unlicensed RAN solutions, including WiFi. Thus, the fronthaul architecture could support LTE and WiFi RANs on the same system.
As a result of its implementation, SK Telecom rolled out a new LTE network in 12 months rather than 24 and reduced operating expenses in the first year by approximately five percent. By 2014, SK Telecom expects an additional 50 percent OpEx savings due to the new architecture.

Anyway, the paper is embedded below for your perusal and is available to download from the iGR website here.



Monday, 12 August 2013

C-RAN Architecture and Challenges


I have blogged about Cloud RAN or C-RAN in the Metrocells blog here and am looking forward to more discussions on this topic in the SON conference later this year.


I came across this interesting presentation from Orange in the LTE World Summit this year where the authors have detailed the C-RAN architecture and also discussing the fronthaul challenges faced by C-RAN. The presentation is embedded as follows. Please feel free to add your comments with your opinions.