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FTTx: C-RAN, Fronthaul and Remote Radio Heads

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.

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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…

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