Cloud RAN (C-RAN)

Mobile operators face the challenge of huge and sudden demand variation in traffic pattern in their leaf level network nodes. For instance, a football event creates a huge bandwidth demand temporarily at an otherwise empty stadium. This creates a demand concentration scenario in a particular location, though the overall network usage may not change significantly. In another scenario, the resources that operators deploy in business oriented locations is used at peak during the day while during the late evenings, the traffic demand shifts to residential locations, which require a different set of resources to be deployed while the overall demand remains constant.

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Cloud RAN (C-RAN)

Mobile operators face the challenge of huge and sudden demand variation in traffic pattern in their leaf level network nodes. For instance, a football event creates a huge bandwidth demand temporarily at an otherwise empty stadium. This creates a demand concentration scenario in a particular location, though the overall network usage may not change significantly. In another scenario, the resources that operators deploy in business oriented locations is used at peak during the day while during the late evenings, the traffic demand shifts to residential locations, which require a different set of resources to be deployed while the overall demand remains constant.

Cloud based RAN deployments help operators meet these challenges in a flexible and cost-effective manner. Cloud RAN (C-RAN) architecture reduces the antenna site hardware including computing resources by relocating most of the base station processing to a centralized location without any changes in the Radio interface or the core network interfaces.

Aricent C-RAN software offering provides a set of LTE and 3G RAN functions on COTS hardware running virtualized platforms. This enables easier scalability of the network by adding more computing resources in the data center instead of requiring major site changes for augmenting cell site capacity.

Features

  • COTS platform deployment: The solution can be deployed on general purpose CPUs instead of any specialized hardware.
  • Virtualized OS platform: Supports virtualization platforms like WR Linux VM, KVM/QEMU and VMWare for hosting the C-RAN software in hardware independent manner over any chosen host OS.
  • Architectural Flexibility: For high front-haul latency deployment (multi-hop routing), the L3 C-RAN or Split-MAC architecture can be deployed.However, for deployment where tight latency (100 micro sec) can be achieved the L2 (non-split MAC) architecture is more suitable. The architectural choice can also be governed by hardware capability of the remote radio unit.
  • Virtual Machine (VM) Migration Support: Runtime migration of VM instances across underlying hardware to support fault tolerance and providing load sharing capability
  • Scalable Architecture: The solution can scale in capacity both in terms of the number of subscribers or throughput per cell or in terms of number of cells that can be supported
  • Dual Mode Architecture: Support for 3G and 4G deployment on different VM instances of the same host server
  • Resource Pooling: The different hardware types can be pooled to run multiple instances of application software to support increased capacity. The resources can be dynamically allocated, with different applications running on the same hardware.
  • Single Core Network Interface: As RAN capacity scales up, the S1 interface towards the EPC does not need to be reconfigured as a single S1 termination point is sufficient to handle complete inbound and outbound core network traffic

Benefits

  • Hardware Independence: Controller software can run on COTS hardware available from different hardware vendors, hence no binding with customized hardware solutions. Different applications can run on the same hardware so that available resources can be used on demand.
  • Software Independence: Application software can run on COTS virtual machines available from different vendors as IaaS. The application is independent of the actual hardware used, so it can run on different hardware with no application software changes. There is also no proprietary software supporting hardware independence.
  • High Availability: Using pooled resource to run controller applications takes care of single or multiple units failing within a pool of resources, while providing geo-redundancy, multi-tenancy and elasticity.
  • Reduced CAPEX: Usage of the COTS hardware and software reduces TCO and time to market. Reuse of available resources with dynamic allocation helps use the full capacity of the resources, thus reducing the number of resources required.
  • Reduced OPEX: Use of common hardware and software reduces the cost of managing different customized solutions. The resource can be effectively used, depending on the load conditions. Based on demand, some of the resources can be switched off in order to reduce electricity and other infrastructure costs (e.g., cooling, etc.).
  • Best-in-Class Performance: The capacity of the system can change quickly according to need. The controller applications run in virtual machines independent of the physical hardware. Third-party virtualization technology from different vendors (KVM, QEMU, VMWare, WR Linux VM) can be used to host the application-specific OS, middleware and applications. There are multiple vendors providing the virtualization IaaS layer.
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