C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • C-RAN’s adoption is likely to grow significantly soon, thanks in part to evolutions in the underlying technologies.
  • Long term, future RANs will see a dynamic mix of centralized and distributed functions.

In 2016, we’re likely to hear even more about C-RAN than we already have. It’s not a new concept, and plenty of operators have deployed mobile access network architectures in which the baseband processing units are centralized, stacked or pooled, linked to remote radio units elsewhere. As portions of the network become increasingly virtualized, baseband processing will become virtualized, too – thus, centralized RAN will evolve into cloud RAN. This won’t happen everywhere, of course, but its use is likely to spread thanks in part to some significant advancements in C-RAN technology coming soon. Continue reading “C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud”

Mobile World Congress Shanghai: RAN Innovation – From Drones and Small Cells to Massive MIMO

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • Across conference sessions and vendor exhibits, Mobile World Congress Shanghai showcased a myriad of wireless network technologies along with deployment traction.
  • Of the technologies showcased, RAN innovation and solutions took center stage.
  • Many of these RAN innovations focused on regional network demands.
  • Where the innovations showcased an ability of nimble vendors to develop new solutions, the onus is on larger rivals to highlight the value of end-to-end capabilities and proven operations.

Earlier this week, we called out a Mobile World Congress Shanghai panel and presentation focused on network virtualization. Outside the conference sessions, we can debate how big the event truly was; it’s unclear how many people came to see smartphone cases (and smartphones) vs. cutting-edge network R&D. What is clear, however, is that the networks R&D and deployments that seemed most visible (in announcements and show floor exhibits) were focused on the RAN. Given the dominant role that the RAN plays in operator CapEx, this focus wasn’t surprising – neither were the RAN themes on display at the event, with a few exceptions. Continue reading “Mobile World Congress Shanghai: RAN Innovation – From Drones and Small Cells to Massive MIMO”

ZTE and the Value of End-to-End

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • ZTE prides itself on being one of the handful of vendors which can deliver end-to-end solutions that stretch from the telecom network to devices and enterprise gear.
  • End-to-end solutions only matter if the value is clear to the service provider.

ZTE’s 2015 Global Analyst Conference takes place this week in Shanghai, China. As with similar events from competitors, it’s a prime opportunity to gain insights into the breadth of the vendor’s business – all of the spaces it plays in (or wants to). Continue reading “ZTE and the Value of End-to-End”

LTE TDD: Everything You Always Wanted to Know…and Weren’t Afraid to Ask

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • Given the difference in duplexing and regional agendas, it’s easy to see TDD and FDD versions of LTE as distinct; in reality, they’re part of a unified standard.
  • It’s also tempting to see LTE TDD as disadvantaged by the history of WiMAX or operator interests in FDD spectrum; again, this isn’t a fair way of looking at the technology.

Back in June, I promised to spend some time this summer (and maybe even into the fall) talking about LTE TDD. That started with a discussion of how massive deployments in the People’s Republic could lead one to think of LTE TDD as a Chinese technology, a notion that runs counter to any interests in seeing LTE’s TDD variant benefit from global manufacturing and R&D scale. A look back at the development of LTE standards backed up the notion that, from its inception, TDD was envisioned as an integral part of LTE, not a narrow, regional use case.

So, where does this leave us as the summer slowly grinds to a halt? Continue reading “LTE TDD: Everything You Always Wanted to Know…and Weren’t Afraid to Ask”

LTE TDD: Driving the Universal Nature of LTE – Whether That’s Understood or Not

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

If I can believe my desk calendar, it’s almost summer. With the longest day of the year fast approaching, my mind has turned to all of the usual topics: fireworks, hot dogs, bitter jealousy aimed at European colleagues who take four-week vacations, LTE TDD.

Okay, summertime and LTE TDD might not go hand-in-hand, but there are some real reasons the TDD implementation of everyone’s favorite 4G technology has been on my mind. Earlier this month, I spent some time with my consumer analysts out in Kansas City visiting Sprint; with LTE TDD at the foundation of Sprint Spark, you know the technology was a major component of the discussions with them. This week, I’m sending some of my team to Shanghai in order to catch up with our friends at ZTE. Along with Huawei (which we visited in April), ZTE is expected to benefit significantly from LTE TDD deployments in China over the next year or so; the two vendors won the lion’s share of China Mobile’s LTE TDD awards. This was long-expected and the scale won in supplying these networks is expected to benefit them, particularly if the other Chinese mobile operators follow suit.

You can see why I’ve been thinking about the technology, right? Great. Then let me throw in another wrinkle. Continue reading “LTE TDD: Driving the Universal Nature of LTE – Whether That’s Understood or Not”

Copper Is Dead, Right? Not So G.Fast and Furious, My Friend

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Telco copper, much maligned by cable operators and FTTH proponents, may still have a lifespan of another 100 years – to paraphrase the CEO of Australian incumbent operator Telstra – thanks to ongoing technology R&D that will eventually enable multi-gigabit connections over the copper plant.
  •  Fiber-to-the-drop-point (FTTdp) will be a de facto FTTH technology, enabling operators to deliver fiber-speed, ultra-broadband connections by leveraging deep fiber architectures with last-run copper plant, supporting speeds of up to 1 Gbps with G.Fast and 5 Gbps in the not-so-distant future.

American author and humorist Mark Twain once said, “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated,” and when it comes to the impending demise of telco copper, Twain’s quote has already been overused (I will be the first to plead guilty). For much of the last decade, the wonders of fiber access, or FTTH, have been touted as the end-all, be-all wireline access technology, with fiber evangelists aggressively lobbying across the planet for the upgrade of telco networks to full-fiber as soon as possible. This includes well-established and respected industry groups such as the various FTTH Councils in Europe, Asia and the Americas, which are the “tip of the spear” for fiber network lobbying, as well as high-profile politicians, most notably Neelie Kroes, the European Union’s Commissioner for Digital Agenda. Continue reading “Copper Is Dead, Right? Not So G.Fast and Furious, My Friend”