By Charlie Ashton
Radio Access Network (RAN) terminology is nothing if not confusing. Traditional RAN configurations are now termed “Distributed RAN.” The first phase of cost optimization through consolidation is typically called “Centralized RAN” or “CRAN.” Capacity improvements achieved through baseband pooling are often known as “Cloud RAN,” representing another, different use of the term “CRAN.” Currently, the ultimate approach to enhancements is “Virtual RAN” or “vRAN.” And we haven’t even mentioned “mini-CRAN,” proposed by China Mobile, let alone “Coordinated RAN,” “Collaborative RAN,” “Clean RAN” or “Advanced CRAN,” all of which have shown up in conference presentations over the past three years.
Regardless of all these flavors of RAN improvements, there’s consensus within the industry that a virtual RAN (vRAN) architecture enables service providers to achieve the best overall potential of cost savings, dynamic capacity scaling, better Quality of Experience (QoE) and rapid instantiation of new services.
In a vRAN architecture, the Baseband Units (BBUs) are virtualized, rather than being located at the cell site as physical equipment. The virtual BBUs are deployed on NFV infrastructure software platforms like Wind River Titanium Cloud, running on industry-standard x86 servers and consolidated in centralized data centers, while the Remote Radio Units (RRUs) remain at the cell sites at the edge of the network. vRAN leverages standard server hardware that cost-effectively scales up or down processor, memory and I/O resources based on dynamic changes in demand, infusing the RAN with capacity for application intelligence, which significantly improves service quality and reliability. In many configurations, the architecture also allows for Ethernet and IP fronthaul transport, which gives services providers more cost-effective options for RRU connections.
To accelerate the introduction of cost-effective vRANs, Wind River has collaborated with Altiostar, Amdocs and Dell EMC to develop a pre-integrated, validated end-to-end solution, ready for deployment by service providers.
Altiostar contributed their vRAN solution, which comprises a software-intensive LTE eNodeB combined with Ethernet fronthaul. Amdocs provided their Network Cloud Service Orchestrator (NCSO), an open, catalog-driven service orchestration solution, while their professional services expertise is also available for designing, deploying, operating and optimizing mobile networks. The solution leverages the Dell EMC PowerEdge R630, an ultra-dense, two-socket 1U rack server based on the latest Intel® Xeon processor E5-2600 v4 product family. Finally, Wind River’s Titanium Cloud platform is the industry’s only fully integrated, ultra-reliable, deployment-ready family of virtualization platforms that enables service providers to deploy virtualized services faster, at lower cost and with guaranteed uptime.
You can read all about the benefits of this integrated vRAN solution in our recently-published white paper “vRAN: the Next Step in Network Transformation”.
You’ll also want to check out the recording of our recent webinar hosted by SDxCentral, where representatives from all four companies jointly presented the solution and explained the business benefits that it delivers.
By extending the benefits of network virtualization from the core to the RAN, vRAN is the optimal solution for cost-efficiently increasing capacity, reducing costs and creating new services. The solution described in the white paper and the webinar delivers carrier grade reliability, predictable performance, low latency, unrivaled manageability, massive scalability, optimized resource utilization and flexible deployment options. These best-in-class technical features provide service providers with clear, quantifiable business benefits in terms of cost reductions, capacity improvements and accelerated deployment times.