FTTx: C-RAN, Fronthaul and Remote Radio Heads - An Editorial Report

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Fiber is set to form the backbone of emerging 5G networks, and access to fiber will be a major competitive advantage for service providers. RCR Wireless News looks at challenges technicians face bringing fiber to the tower; the different applications for C-RAN and what is CPRI and how it helps operators.

Download 'FTTx: C-RAN, Fronthaul and Remote Radio Heads' Feature Report

Carriers are able to fully utilize their investment in their fiber network by using WDM. For the carriers to go along and install a brand new cable is an expensive and time consuming process.

RCR Wireless News looks at challenges technicians face bringing fiber to the tower; the different applications for C-RAN and what is CPRI and how it helps operators.

Fiber is set to form the backbone of emerging 5G networks, and access to fiber will be a major competitive advantage for service providers. Verizon Wireless didn’t buy spectrum in the latest government auction, but the carrier did announce an agreement to spend $1.05 billion buying fiber from Corning over the next three years. The investment follows Verizon’s $1.8 billion purchase of XO Communications, which closed earlier this year.

How are carriers using fiber, and why do they need it for 5G networks? Right now fiber is used primarily to backhaul network traffic from towers to carrier core networks, but network architectures are evolving in ways that make fiber important in other areas as well.

Mobile network operators are improving performance and flexibility by separating their radio equipment into two parts: the radio transceiver is placed near the antenna while the digital baseband processor is housed in a secure, central location. This architecture started at the cell towers, when operators moved the radios to the tower tops and used fiber to connect them to the baseband units in shelters at the bottom of the tower.

The next step was the development of centralized radio access networks, or C-RAN. Radios and antennas can be closer to the end user, and fiber fronthaul connects them to baseband units in a data center, at the bottom of a tower, or in a building “baseband hotel” that houses several such units.

“Fiber gives operators the ability to control multiple radios from one baseband location,” said Martha DeGrasse, author of a recent RCR Wireless feature report entitled FTTX: Fiber, fronthaul and remote radio heads.
This report explains the new challenges that mobile network operators face as they deploy fiber fronthaul. They need to test radio performance remotely, and they need to be sure that the fiber itself is clean and uncompromised.

Download the report

Problems with fiber are not always perceptible through visual inspection. Fortunately, test equipment has evolved along with mobile networks and in this report RCR shares insights from three of the leading test equipment vendors: EXFO, Anritsu and Viavi Solutions.

Fiber vendor CommScope also shares information in this report about technologies that can help operators get the most leverage from their fiber investments. Wave division multiplexing enables carriers to use one strand of fiber transmit multiple optical signals on a single strand of fiber.

“Carriers are able to fully utilize their investment in their fiber network by using WDM,” said Wes Oxlee, director of wireless connectivity solutions at CommScope. “For the carriers to go along and install a brand new cable is an expensive and time consuming process.”

Carriers need to use fiber as efficiently as they can as they prepare their networks for 5G. Even though the 5G standard is as yet undefined, wireless technologists know 5G will require radios that are close to the end users connected to centralized processors.

Jake MacLeod, founder of Graybeards Consulting and former CTO of Bechtel, explains the foundations and requirements of 5G in a webinar that accompanies that FTTx feature report.

Watch the webinar.

About RCR Wireless News
Since 1982, RCR Wireless News has been providing wireless and mobile industry news, insights, and analysis to industry and enterprise professionals, decision makers, policy makers, analysts and investors. Our mission is to connect, globally and locally, mobile technology professionals and companies online, in person, and now on video. Our dedication to editorial excellence coupled with one of the industry’s most comprehensive industry databases and digital networks leads readers and advertisers to consistently choose RCR Wireless News over other industry publications. http://www.rcrwireless.com

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