Introducing xHaul: REWRITING THE PLAYBOOK FOR TRANSPORT NETWORKING IN THE RAN IN 5G
The continuing introduction of 5G will have a profound impact on the infrastructures service providers use to deliver their offerings. The expansion of radio capacity and performance and the increased densification of cell sites for 5G generate new requirements for transport networks used in mobile operators’ radio access networks (RANs) to meet. These include significant increases in the capacity of the RAN transport network, broadened support for the RAN’s stringent latency controls, expanding the footprint of the network to support increased cell site densification, enhancing the modularity of network elements to support flexibility in deployments, and containing costs in as many areas of the networks as possible. Although prior generations of RAN transport have used a relatively simple backhaul design, the scope of enhancements in 5G has stimulated developing a new, more modular network architecture dividing the path from radio sites to the mobile core into three complementary tiers named fronthaul, midhaul and (as in predecessor generations) backhaul. We refer to this set of tiers as xHaul, which in the 5G RAN can be configured in a variety of ways based on operator needs.
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