|Evolution to C-RAN Architecture »|
The centralized network architecture is currently being deployed by mobile operators globally as it aids in easy maintenance at the single location and provides improved security (no cabinets to break into) and reduces energy utilization.
Furthermore, in LTE networks, the collocation of BBUs simplifies the X2 interface and also makes the associated latency and synchronization issues insignificant. The X2 interface provisions information exchange between BBUs for smooth handover and coordination. Among others, below are some business benefits when migrating to centralized architecture.
1. Fast Deployment: Mobile operators normally deploy 100s of sites in a single installation phase. By moving the intelligent block to the central office, the total number of equipment at each individual cell site is reduced and the installation process becomes very simple and quick. C-RAN architecture therefore saves valuable time to bring newer services online.
2. Energy Saving: Pooling of power hungry BBUs at central office offers the option of switching some of them off during lower traffic period. ZTE and China Mobile have estimated ca. 75% power savings via C-RAN architecture compared to traditional RAN.
3. Adaptable: Virtualized BBU pooling helps adapt to temporal non-uniform traffic and provides a smooth transition to new standards via a simple CPU/ software upgrade in a single location. With the aid of SDN/NFV, C-RAN can support multi-vendor and even multi-operator radio networks with full visibility of the network performance .
4. Flexible: C-RAN architecture provides easy densification of cell sites. Small cell to DAS can be complemented to offload the load via simple network upgrades while keeping effort for complete maintenance to minimum.
5. Cost Effective: C-RAN architecture is not only CAPEX friendly but also OPEX friendly. It reduces the expenses caused by expensive real estate for remote nodes, high power consumption and most importantly cost of network development and Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM).
Additionally, C-RAN is the foundation for the “5G” networks which will connect mission critical applications to machines and aids the rise of omni-connect IoT. Therefore, investment today in C-RAN architecture is only going to be beneficial in long-term.