Mobile broadband is approaching a point where cellular infrastructure is a viable substitute for fixed broadband in many markets. In this new environment, mobile operators are seeking ways to increase network capacity and coverage while reducing time to market for new services and achieving lower total cost of ownership.
To accomplish this, they must cost-effectively combine multiple standards, frequency bands, cell layers and transport network solutions, while at the same time shortening latencies and handling substantially increased data rates.
By introducing Cloud RAN architectures, operators will be able to use Network Functions Virtualization techniques and data center processing capabilities in their networks. This allows for resource pooling, scalability, layer interworking and spectral efficiency.
Cloud RAN can provide further benefits in terms of more separated and decoupled scalability of the different parts of the RAN functionality, as well as a decreased need for dedicated radio hardware and options to mitigate functional and capacity asymmetries introduced by future, much more capable radio access technologies.
Cloud RAN is a frequently used expression today, but is often used with different meanings. When we talk about Cloud RAN, we want to incorporate as many important aspects of network architecture as possible, focusing on the concepts that deal with collaboration.This will give us the flexibility to talk about it in more than one way.
Cloud RAN covers coordination, centralization and virtualization and is a classical optimization problem with more than one boundary condition for successful business. There will not be one solution that fits all scenarios. Solutions will need to coexist and leverage investments made. In the end, the successful operators and vendors will of course be the ones that manage to provide the best user experience at the lowest total cost of ownership.