Journey to Cloud RAN from 4G RAN(Radio Access Network)
We are moving towards Cloud RAN from the traditional monolithic base station/Enb architecture. The current eNodeB architecture consists of radio unit and baseband hardware co-located in a cabinet or shelter at the cell site with the IP-enabled BBU (Baseband Unit) sending and receiving traffic to and from the EPC (Evolved Packet Core). The eNBs are deployed at the bottom of the tower with coax feeder cables carrying the RF signal up and down the tower.
In an alternative decoupled architecture, the BBU hardware is located in a cabinet or shelter at the cell site with the IP-enabled BBU sending and receiving traffic from the EPC. The remote radio unit(RRU) is connected to the BBU via a fiber link.
In order to improve the RF performance, RRUs are used that significantly reduce signal loss in the cell by replacing the RF coax cables with digital signals.
The distributed RAN design also allows more flexibility in placing radio transmitters and antennas, especially in indoor environments. Once the baseband and RF processing are separated, the baseband can be moved away from the cell site entirely and consolidated in a more central location.
Cloud-RAN combines the baseband processing for multiple sites into a baseband pool, allowing multiple cells to be controlled with fewer processing nodes and greatly reducing the amount of equipment at the cell site itself.
The primary advantage of the C-RAN architecture is the overall reduction in CapEx and OpEx by consolidating and reducing the total amount of baseband equipment needed to handle a given number of cells; and reducing the equipment deployed at each cell site, which in turn reduces the power, air conditioning, real estate and other requirements at the site.
Because the C-RAN centralizes the resource allocation and scheduling across multiple cells, it can achieve efficient resource utilization and minimizes interferences across cells, i.e., improved capacity and performance.
Centralization in C-RAN can enhance the operation of features like Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) and Carrier Aggregation (CA).
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