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Avoid unnecessary site visits with Elastic RAN connectivity

Radio sites are not static! evolve over time.

To keep up with users’ ever-increasing demand for more bandwidth, service providers are investing billions of dollars in purchasing more spectrum and deploying 5G New Radios (NR). Equipment providers continue to introduce innovative features to increase network performance. Mobile traffic is moving from LTE to 5G as users upgrade to new cell phones. In fact, by the end of 2027, 5G subscriptions around the world are expected to reach 4.4 billion, and in North America more than 95% of subscriptions will use 5G.

With all these changes, radio sites must adapt accordingly. Sites that are initially configured for basebands to support multiple radio access technologies at the same time, may be upgraded to a site with a dedicated LTE baseband and another dedicated 5G baseband. Traditionally, radios are “hard-wired” to the baseband, and so any changes would require an expensive crew to be sent to the site to reconnect the radios to another baseband.

Mobile phone subscriptions

5G | LTE | WCDMA/HSPA

smart phones

Year 2022 – 2027

all over the world

Mobile phone subscriptions

5G | LTE | WCDMA/HSPA

smart phones

Year 2022 – 2027

North Amarica

Cloud RAN evolution

Another development is the evolution towards Cloud RAN (Radio Access Network) which uses a generic computing platform rather than a purpose-built hardware platform to achieve RAN functionality. In this scenario, the virtual distributed unit – vDU can run on a public computing platform, while the virtual central unit – vCU can be in a central edge compute location. Computing platforms tend to have shorter life cycles and lower reliability compared to purpose-built hardware. In addition, server NIC interfaces may evolve from 25Gbps and 100Gbps interfaces. On the other hand, radios tend to stay in the tower for many years and use interfaces from 10Gbps to 25Gbps. You want the flexibility to bundle several lower speed radio interfaces into a faster server interface and have the ability to connect any radio to any compute platform.

Midnight maintenance window

Service affecting work is performed on sites during the maintenance window, usually between midnight and 4am, when most people are asleep (as they should be). Night crews have a short window to finish wiring connections at a particular location. This is in contrast to the day crew who has twice the time for no downtime on site. As a result, the efficiency of the crew on the day shift is twice that of the night shift. Hitting tens of thousands of radio spots results in an operating spend (OpEx) difference of millions of dollars.

Ericsson employee on site

The solution against midnight oil burn

What if you could re-provision any wireless connection to any baseband or vDU – remotely? This means that day crews can prepare sites in advance and night crews redesign multiple sites with automated tools—at the same time—remotely. This allows operators to roll out innovative technologies and spectrum twice as fast and at much lower cost. To do this, we need a new type of product called Fronthaul Gateway with integrated switch fabric.

Fronthaul gateway as a flexible RAN connection

Radio sites are rarely in new or homogeneous domains, and may have low-band radios using the CPRI public radio interface and massive mid-band MIMO radios using the eCPRI (developed CPRI) New Packet Interface. The site may also use a mixture of purpose-built LTE basebands and 5G vDUs running on the computing platforms.

The front gate has the ability to convert all traffic coming from CPRI radios into eCPRI and combine it with other native eCPRI radio traffic. This effectively creates One standardized eCPRI tissue for all radio traffic. The other functions it performs are connecting the radio on one side and the basebands/vDU on the other, effectively separating the physical radio interfaces from the higher-capacity baseband/vDU interfaces. It also connects all traffic within a site and aggregates all traffic between sites into one aggregate network interface. Fronthaul portal provides the following benefits:

  • Connect any radio to any baseband or vDU
  • Connect existing CPRI radios to Cloud RAN vDUs
  • Separate LTE and 5G networks and connect to different basebands/vDU
  • Separate the radio interface speeds from the faster baseband/vDU interfaces
  • Radio traffic aggregation and improved baseband/vDU efficiency
  • Increase flexibility by allowing traffic to be switched to another baseband/vDU
  • Easy migration from distributed D-RAN to centralized C-RAN architectures
Figure 3: Fronthaul gate as a flexible RAN connection

Figure 3: Fronthaul gate as a flexible RAN connection

be flexible; The secret to getting a good night’s rest

Fronthaul portal deployment allows you to seamlessly adapt your radio website to evolving traffic and technology. It gives you the ability to connect any radio to any Baseband or Cloud RAN vDU. The best part is that you can do it remotely with automated tools that allow for faster deployment at a much lower cost.

Nobody can predict the future – but we can prepare for it. Ericsson, with more than 133 live 5G networks deployed, is at the forefront of the latest wireless access network developments. This gives us an insight into what requirements change as networks evolve.

Contact us and let’s talk about how using a front gate as a flexible RAN connection can give you a better night’s rest today and in the future!

More reading from Ericsson

For more information on how Ericsson can help you create an optimized solution for your agile radio sites, please refer to the links below.