Mobile operators are struggling to provide the capacity to meet the explosion of demand for mobile broadband services. Today’s mobile networks comprise wide-area coverage of 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE technologies. Seeking better capacity coverage and operational efficiencies, operators look for new, promising network concepts.
Evolving to heterogeneous networks (HetNets) with the adoption of new concepts like intelligent small-cells and C-RAN (Cloud or CentralizedRadio Access Network) allows network operators to cope effectively with the capacity surge.
Holistic HetNet Hauling (3H) is Ceragon’s fresh vision for organizing the HetNet’s hauling requirements including backhaul and fronthaul. Combining technologies, equipment and services, 3H allows network operators to meet accelerating demand for capacity cost-effectively under rapidly evolving conditions.
3H exploits the many advantages of microwave technology including simple and quick deployment, versatility and cost-efficiency making it much more suitable than fiber optic cable for a fast-changing environment especially during a time of economic constraints. Recent developments in wireless hauling, which allow the transmission of multi-gigabit capacities over the air, make 3H an even more attractive option for hauling heavy mobile applications.
The components of 3H
Operators want to provide the necessary coverage, capacity and quality that meet the requirements at each point in their network, mixing technologies in order to service the growing cadre of mobile subscribers in the best way possible. In the past, network operators envisioned a clear distinction between the RAN equipment and the different backhaul layers—between the access network, aggregation and core. New Centralized RAN concepts and small cells blur this traditional distinction. For example, a subscriber might find himself in an area simultaneously covered by a macro and small cell that work together to provide access and backhaul. From the operator’s point of view, the mobile network is becoming heterogeneous—a HetNet.
The industry employs the term backhaul to denote the transport of voice and data back from base stations to the switch. There are now alternative architectures that muddle this traditional architecture. We use the term backhaul to mean traditional “behind the base station” transport toward the switch. We use the novel term fronthaul to denote the new technologies that allow transport between the radio unit and the baseband unit in front of the base station. Fronthaul is an innovative concept that allows mobile network operators to use detached radio and baseband units in fresh scenarios providing lower TCO with better coverage, higher capacity and improved quality of experience. Our 3H approach is to meet all hauling challenges whether backhaul or fronthaul.
While certain vendors might specialize in equipment or expertise for solving the coverage and capacity requirements of backhaul and/or fronthaul network, we look at the entirety of HetNets holistically. We enable network operators to plan, deploy and operate any sort of network that makes the most sense for them in terms of customer experience, services, technology, topology, flexibility, cost, operation, management and maintenance—in short, to realize the dream of the best network possible at every point given all the factors that go into such decisions. Then, we provide expertise and solutions to deliver on their decisions.
When evaluating solutions for holistic HetNet hauling, there are several criteria to measure against:
Capacity – an order of magnitude more throughput
Coverage – a toolkit to reach any location
Control – service awareness, management of the customer experience
Modernization – cost-effective evolution from the installed base
Simplification – ease of management and zero-touch provisioning
New HetNet Hauling Scenarios
We perceive six fundamental scenarios constituting the HetNet Continuum. The first three of these scenarios come under the rubric of Small Cell Backhaul and the latter three are based on Macro CellBackhaul and Fronthaul.
Ceragon's blueprint for future mobile networks.
Small Cell Backhaul Scenarios
From a distance, all small cells look alike; they all increase the available capacity and reduce the need for the expensive real estate of base stations. However, there are significant differences in the business models, operational models and backhaul requirements between the main types of small cells. We identify three relevant types of small cell scenarios: offload, integrated and coordinated.
Macro Cell Backhaul and Fronthaul Scenarios
Though it seems that all the industry commotion today is around small cells, it is actually the macro-cell environment that is experiencing the most innovation. Capacity demand and OPEX pressures are leading to a new breed of solution development where space lease and acquisition, power consumption and truck rolls have increasing influence.
Macro cells experience a surge in capacity demand due to LTE-A carrier aggregation, on one hand, and due to the fact that they are now a hub for small cells, on the other. New ideas are materializing concerning distribution with dozens of sectors on a single base station and with regard to cloud concepts where up to hundreds of remote radio units (RRUs) are connected to a cloud digital unit (DU). We identify three types of macro-cell scenarios: super-size, distributed and cloud.
Ceragon’s 3H vision provides the path to meeting and keeping up with capacity demand in the evolving HetNet environment. By addressing both fronthaul and backhaul holistically in a comprehensive network, 3H provides network operators with the means to cope with their site-specific and overall capacity challenges.
Based on our 3H vision, Ceragon provides network operators with the means to cope with their site-specific and overall capacity challenges. We offer solutions that are cost-effective, efficient in each hauling scenario, easy to implement and versatile to accommodate network evolution. With its cost-effective, high-capacity arsenal, including a solution for virtually every type of hauling requirement, Ceragon applies its global experience and service expertise to impartially help operators cope with all of their capacity issues.