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Powering your 5G network - Addressing Wireless Backhaul Challenges

By Dudy Cohen

5G networks are here… and right along with them are 5G network challenges.

The ability to identify these challenges is a major part of preparing for the 5G era. However, it is even more important to address these challenges in a timely fashion and within the planned investment.

While major RAN vendors are focusing on the 5G Core and 5G RAN domains, Ceragon is the only significant vendor with the focus, expertise and technological flexibility to address 5G backhaul challenges. Ceragon can do so by offering a set of products, services and technologies that are specifically designed for the 5G revolution.

Ceragon, the wireless backhaul specialist, leverages its in-house technology (including Radio-Frequency-Integrated-Circuit System-on-Chip and Mix Signal Modem SoC) and vertical integration capabilities to provide the most comprehensive portfolio of wireless backhaul solutions to meet 5G network challenges.

How does Ceragon address 5G backhaul challenges?

  1. Cell site connectivity

The massive growth in capacity demand, together with methods used in 5G-RAN to address this growth, pose challenges to the wireless backhaul infrastructure. This infrastructure is now required to connect more sites with X10 the capacity while accommodating both macro-cells and small-cells, in cloud-RAN and distributed-RAN topologies.

This challenge is addressed using a multi-tier approach.

Macro-cell connectivity is a strategic infrastructure of 5G networks. Macro-cells utilize both 4G and 5G technologies, and use wide channels to accommodate traffic growth. This affects the required backhaul capacity, which increases from 100s of Mbps to multiple Gbps during initial 5G rollout.

As macro-cell connectivity is a strategic infrastructure, it is still predominantly accommodated by microwave bands that provide 99.999% availability for guaranteeing network and subscriber SLAs. These microwave band solutions are boosted using Ceragon’s chipsets, as well as its unique radio and digital processing, to provide higher capacity with the limited spectrum resources of microwave. The support of wider channels (up to 224MHz, pending regulation), combined with Ceragon’s unique capabilities such as 4x4 LoS MIMO and Advanced Frequency Reuse (AFR), allow up to 8Gbps of capacity over microwave bands.

Combining microwave solutions with millimeter wave solutions can further enhance capacity by utilizing multiband technology. This enhancement can reach a capacity of 24Gbps, of which 20Gbps utilizes an E-band carrier (2GHz, with XPIC) with 99.9% availability, and 4-8Gbps utilizes microwave spectrum (112-224MHz with 4x4 LoS MIMO) with 99.999% availability.

On the other hand, when addressing small-cell and C-RAN connectivity challenges, required distances become much shorter and additional requirements are added to enhanced capacity – namely small form factor and low power consumption. These derive from the nature of small-cell installations, typically at street level.

Current millimeter wave bands (E-Band and V-Band) provide an excellent solution for these applications. These solutions, which will grow in capacity as technologies such as XPIC and Ceragon’s unique and field-proven 4x4 LoS MIMO are implemented in those bands, will facilitate radio capacity of up to 40Gbps.

But the race for higher capacity does not end there. With the goal of achieving radio capacity of 100Gbps, which is required for advanced C-RAN fronthaul applications and dense urban aggregation links, Ceragon is implementing its unique next-generation  technology. This technology enables four to eight cores to reside in the same radio unit, thanks to a significant breakthrough in ASIC design achieved by Ceragon’s engineers. This, combined with new spectrum bands (W-Band and D-Band) that utilize frequencies of up to 174GHz, will allow Ceragon to achieve a single-box 4x4 LoS MIMO with 5GHz channels and facilitate 100Gbps wireless connections.

The table below illustrates Ceragon’s strategic capacity roadmap:

 single channel capacity2

  1. Service orchestration

5G delivers new services such as V2X communications, tactile internet and massive IoT. This brings about new requirements from the network (including latency and availability). It also gives rise to a new infrastructure scheme in which each service is guaranteed to receive the proper service level, regardless of the status of other services. This calls for measures of service orchestration across all network domains.

Service orchestration is best achieved through Software Defined Networking (SDN) architecture, enabling efficient service orchestration (provisioning and management), and supporting network-slicing across different network domains.

Ceragon’s IP-20 SDN-enabled network solutions, as well as its Wireless Backhaul Domain Controller, allow service orchestration by integrating the wireless backhaul domain with the network orchestration layer to allow efficient cross-domain network slicing and service orchestration.

An additional benefit achieved by transitioning to SDN architecture is the introduction of various automation and resource optimization tools. Such tools increase operational efficiency while deploying, maintaining and optimizing the network and services, and ensuring customer quality of experience.

The diagram below illustrates Ceragon’s SDN architecture

SDN Network

  1. Scale & skill gap

The massive deployment of new network elements, cell sites, services and technologies poses a major challenge to any organization. This calls for a more complex skill set as well as a new magnitude of scale. Addressing these challenges is key to the successful and efficient deployment and maintenance of any part of the network.

In order to optimize the network lifecycle, as well as increase labor productivity and avoid the above-mentioned “scale & skill gap,” Ceragon provides a suite of network lifecycle management solutions, as illustrated in the diagram below.

Network LifeCycle

The suite consists of automation tools and SDN applications that address each stage of the network and service lifecycle.

The planning and commissioning phases are significantly simplified by the CeraPlan service automation tool. CeraPlan simplifies and shortens the node installation process, and reduces the burden of mass network deployment by ensuring “first time right” installation while reducing the skill set required for network element deployment. The tool creates a node-specific, preconfigured configuration file that turns the installation task into little more than a file upload procedure.

The aforementioned SDN architecture is an internal part of Ceragon’s network lifecycle management, as it provides dynamic service orchestration and creation, and simplifies and optimizes the configuration & provisioning phase. Additional SDN applications automate the monitoring and analytics & optimization phases, and utilize big-data tools to analyze the massive amount of data gathered from network elements. This helps to proactively address network bottlenecks and quickly define the root cause of a service failure.

Summary

While major RAN vendors are focusing on the 5G Core and 5G RAN domains, Ceragon is the only significant wireless backhaul vendor with the focus, expertise and technological flexibility to address these 5G backhaul challenges. Ceragon can do so by offering a set of products, services and technologies that are specifically designed for the 5G revolution.

Ceragon, the wireless backhaul specialist, leverages its in-house technology and vertical integration expertise to provide the most comprehensive portfolio of wireless backhaul solutions that meet today’s and tomorrow’s network challenges.

When it comes to 5G, don’t settle for less than the wireless backhaul experts – Ceragon Networks.

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