Cable operators moved closer to using DOCSIS networks for fronthaul and transport when Telecom Infra Project (TIP) members co-created a disaggregated, containerized, multi-organization LTE RAN reference solution that provides 4G RAN services over their existing networks.
Announced this week during TIP Summit in Amsterdam, the solution will enable cablecos to reduce total cost of ownership, accelerate new-service rollout and improve consistency of service quality. Engineering and research and development firm Altran was lead integrator and teamed up with Benetel, which develops radio platforms and services, as well as radio frequency solutions, along with San Diego-based Phluido, a Radio Access Network (RAN) virtualization and disaggregation software and technology developer.
The work was conducted under the guidance of CableLabs.
"As 5G starts to proliferate, a growing number of operators are now virtualizing their networks and investing billions in software-defined networks/network functions virtualization infrastructure," said Brian Bronson, president of Platforms and Solutions at Altran, in a statement. "All our partners have an excellent track record of innovation, and that will translate into operators being able to fundamentally change the way networks are built and at a significantly lower cost. At the same time, the containerization of RAN solutions will help operators to align their 4G and 5G network deployment strategy -- to future-proof their networks."
Containerizing RAN curtails the demands the network places on CPU cores and memory yet still gives operators almost the same benefits and power of bare-metal solutions running on virtual infrastructure. This cuts operators' need for expensive, time-consuming fiber because they can use their DOCSIS networks for fronthaul and further lower capex by using RAN containerization and their existing DOCSIS network for transport, too.
To accomplish this, Altran used its cloud-RAN-based LTE RAN software framework which leverages the 3GPP Option 7-2 split and Altran's LTE layer 3 and layer 2 integrated with Phluido's layer 1 and Benetel's remote radio unit (RRU). This unit is a platform that can support 4G and 5G networks. The RRUs support the functional split 7-2 via a modular architecture.
"We believe that containerization, hardware-software disaggregation, and open interfaces are key to disrupt the legacy approach to deploy 4G and 5G radio networks," said Alan Barbieri, CEO of Phluido, in a release. "The live reference design showcased at the TIP Summit demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of a multi-vendor virtualized RAN based upon containers and open interfaces, all in addition to the algorithms needed to support fronthaul over DOCSIS networks."
The remote radio units have operator- selectable features so providers can choose only those assets that meet their needs.
"This is another great example of simplifying and addressing the key adoption drivers for these applications," said Adrian O'Connor, CEO of Benetel. "This creative and disruptive approach is complementing exciting 4G and 5G RRU developments and the ever-increasing market interest for vRAN solutions."
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