Of the various technologies that are expected to make 5G possible, it is perhaps C-RAN that will require the biggest shifts in deployment. And so, I have a feeling that we're going to be hearing quite a bit about C-RAN tests and demos throughout 2017. We're not yet done with 2016 of course, but this morning it was Vodafone and Nokia that announced a successful test.
The C-RAN architecture puts processing power out in the backhaul network, from which it processes traffic aggregated from fronthaul network that provides greater granularity from more antennas than traditional infrastructures. That lets time-critical functionality be done at closer to the user, while less time-critical functions can be scaled at the edge. Overall, the design is expected to make it possible to scale up today's wireless networks while keeping costs reasonable..
At its testing facility in Italy, Vodafone deployed Nokia's Cloud RAN platform running on AirFrame NFV infrastructure. They found the setup could achieve all their KPIs for throughput, capacity, and resiliency, matching the service quality provided by today's LTE networks.
Now all they have to do is start deploying it commercially. That's something the whole industry is gearing up for, but whose actual timeline remains unclear. It's surely inevitable, but for vendors like Nokia I'm sure it can't come too soon.
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