In a world-first, Nokia Bell Labs showed it is now possible to use a commercial next generation PON (NG-PON) to transport ultra-low latency CPRI streams via a standard single fiber running between BBU and the RRH.
The proof-of concept demonstration was done in accordance with the latency budget requirements for the fronthaul of commercial radio equipment, showing that existing fiber networks can be used to cost-efficiently transport mobile traffic and help accelerate 5G.
Fronthaul is an essential element of the C-RAN (Centralized Radio Access Network) architecture in mobile networks, where the processing power is centralized and moved away from the cell sites. This can help operators reduce the cost and power consumption of their on-site installations along with ease cell cooperation schemes that help enhance mobile network capacity and coverage.
In a C-RAN architecture, the legacy Common Public Radio Interfaces (CPRI) and some of the next generation fronthaul interfaces require ultra-low latency transport – often in the sub-millisecond range – to meet the strict timing and synchronization requirements of 4G and 5G technologies.
Nokia Bell Labs validated that the use of next generation PON technology XGS-PON (X=10, G=Gigabit, S-PON=symmetrical Passive Optical Network) technology would satisfy these strict timing constraints and deliver the capacity needed while reducing the cost of mobile cell site transport.
Peter Vetter, head of Access Research at Nokia Bell Labs said, “This is an important milestone in the industry and in the advancement of 5G, showing for the first time how a PON network can effectively be used to support very high capacity, low latency applications.”
Federico Guillen, president of Nokia’s Fixed Networks business group said, “This Bell Labs demonstration is another example, successfully showing how fixed access technologies can be used to support mobile deployments. The massive scale, capacity and coverage of fiber access networks make them a perfect match to support 5G.”
In addition to mobile transport applications, passive optical networks are also becoming an attractive option for operators looking to support latency sensitive services and IoT applications such as manufacturing control and connected vehicles.