Altran, Benetel and Phluido have co-created a disaggregated, multi-organisation, containerised LTE RAN reference solution that provides 4G RAN services over existing cable networks. Working under the guidance of CableLabs, the companies developed the solution as part of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) vRAN Fronthaul Project Group.
Containerisation of radio access network (RAN) solutions is significant as it reduces the requirements of general purpose processor (GPP) CPU cores and memory while still delivering the benefits almost equivalent to that of bare metal solutions over virtual infrastructure. This innovation allows cable operators to leverage DOCSIS networks as an effective means for fronthaul transport. Moreover, cable operators are given a dual means to additionally lower capex by using RAN containerisation and reusing existing DOCSIS network infrastructure as transport.
As lead integrator in this initiative, Altran employed its LTE RAN software framework based on cloud RAN architecture. The solution implements the 3GPP Option 7-2 split with Altran’s LTE layer 3 and layer 2 integrated with Phluido’s layer 1 and Benetel’s remote radio unit (RRU). The RRU provides a platform that can support both 4G and 5G networks. Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) can monetise the reference solution supported on containers and RRU to provide LTE solutions that leverage existing and future cable networks.
Brian Bronson, President of Platforms and Solutions at Altran, commented: “As 5G starts to proliferate, a growing number of operators are now virtualising their networks and investing billions in SDN/NFV infrastructure. All our partners have an excellent track record of innovation and that will translate into operators being able to fundamentally change the way networks are built and at a significantly lower cost. At the same time, the containerisation of RAN solutions will help operators to align their 4G and 5G network deployment strategy – to future-proof their networks.”
Alan Barbieri, CEO of Phluido, said, “Phluido has been at the forefront of the RAN virtualisation and open fronthaul interfaces since 2014 and as a pioneer of the open RAN concept, we believe that containerisation, hardware-software disaggregation, and open interfaces are key to disrupt the legacy approach to deploy 4G and 5G radio networks.”
The RRUs are developed to support the functional split 7-2, embracing a modular architecture with selectable features in keeping with the flexibility and versatility required by end-market applications.
“This is another great example of simplifying and addressing the key adoption drivers for these applications,” said Adrian O’Connor, CEO of Benetel. “This creative and disruptive approach is complementing exciting 4G and 5G RRU developments and the ever-increasing market interest for vRAN solutions.”