Radio Access Network is component of mobile network which establishes connection between mobile users and core network. It is an essential part of every mobile network to enable efficient communication between base station and end users. How does centralized (cloud) radio access network C-RAN works?
Components of distributed RAN
Remote Radio Head (RRH) acts as a transceiver to the mobile devices. RRH is basically an antenna array arranged in different direction to cover large area surrounding the cell tower.
Baseband Unit (BBU) is responsible for processing calls and forward mobile traffic to the mobile switching centre (MSC) located at another place via carrier Ethernet backhaul connection.
Mobile Switching Center (MSC) is a complex switching mechanism to provide connection to mobile users within the network and users of other mobile networks. MSC also coordinates all the communications channels and processes within the network and establishes communication to core mobile network.
How Centralized Radio Access Network (C-RAN)
In centralized radio access network architecture, baseband units are relocated from individual cell sites to a centralized office (often known as BBU hotel). The centralized / cloud based baseband units offers much efficient and cost effective network access with the use of cloud infrastructure.
Central office or baseband unit (BBU) hotel consists of multiple baseband units where the centralized processing occurs. This centralized control station is connected to the core network using high speed optical fiber connections.
In order to achieve greater processing power, mobile operators are moving towards cloud platform to support larger number of users with high speed data and network reliability. Advanced cloud computing techniques together with C-RAN architecture helps mobile service providers multiple options for network scalability.
Implementation of C-RAN solve spectrum limitations by adding more small-cells which re-use the expensive frequency band to cover large geographical area than one base station support bigger area in traditional network.
Advantages of C-RAN
- Cost effective due to less hardware requirements
- Reduced space requirements
- Simplifies network
- Higher spectral efficiency
- Support of multiple wireless standards
- Achieve faster speeds than distributed RAN
- Reduced heating and less cooling requirements
- Reduced power requirements
- Increased testing access
- Increased network flexibility
- Easier network enhancements and upgrade capability
- Increased scalability of network and easier deployments
- Efficient monitoring and maintenance of network
Significance of C-RAN in future wireless networks
Centralized or cloud based radio access network has lot of significance in future wireless networks like 5G and Internet of Things. C-RAN will reduce overall deployment time and offer a secure network ecosystem. Network scalability is important to make sure a smooth transition from LTE advanced to future 5G networks.
Due to higher demand for network enhancement to support more users, network operators has to add more base stations frequently. C-RAN architecture is the best solution for easier network enhancements and scalability.