Light Reading
Radio access networks are set for radical change

MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It?

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile Column
Michelle Donegan
2/14/2011
50%
50%

The cloud, distributed radio access networks (RANs), antenna integrated radio (AIR), lightRadio, Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) and small cells -- these are just some of the mobile infrastructure buzzwords that will be pinging through the halls of the Fira this week at Mobile World Congress 2011. And they are some of the technologies that could one day transform the mobile broadband access network as the industry knows it today.

Before the mobile industry's great and good descended upon Barcelona, several major vendor announcements showed that radical change is in the air.

First, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) unveiled its lightRadio vision that entails replacing the monster base stations of today with 5-centimeter cubes that house both antenna and software-defined radio (SDR) technology. In addition, the company has enlisted Freescale to develop a complete baseband processing system-on-chip (SoC). (See AlcaLu: We're Killing the Base Station , The Lowdown on lightRadio and AlcaLu Unveils lightRadio.)

Next up, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) took the wraps off its antenna integrated radio (AIR) product that integrates the antenna and radio unit of a base station into a compact piece of kit, which the vendor claims will reduce deployment times and operational costs of installing cell sites for operators because it cuts power consumption and installation times. (See Ericsson's Small Cells Come Up for AIR.)

Beyond these developments from suppliers, SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) revealed that it is working on adopting what it calls a "Smart Cloud Access Network" (SCAN) for its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The operator describes this architecture as a cloud-based network that centers on the deployment of remote radio heads and antennas separately from the rest of the traditional elements of a base station. The operator has selected Samsung Corp. , LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) and Nokia Networks as its equipment suppliers for its LTE network. (See SKT Unveils LTE Plans, SK Telecom Picks LTE Vendors and NSN Wins LTE Deal at SK Telecom .)

And let us not forget the HetNet and femtocells, which stand to play a role in shaping future RAN design as the movement for smaller, flexible, distributed and efficient equipment gathers pace. (See Get Hip to the HetNet.)

So the lingering question about all these technology developments is, what's an operator to do? And, are these developments coming from vendor push or operator pull? Light Reading Mobile is here at Mobile World Congress 2011 and we aim to find out.

Follow Light Reading Mobile's coverage of Mobile World Congress at our dedicated show site right here, where we'll report all the goings-on at the industry's largest event.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
m__reed
50%
50%
m__reed,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:12:52 PM
re: MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It?


Michelle,


the ALU and Ericsson announcment signal a HUGE change in the overall vendor solution.  I think vendors have been looking at the way Operators were being forced to deploy WiFi to cope with load they could see their business dwindling as WiFi, (the competing small cell solution), took over.  The vendors have had no choice but to innovate and take on the challenge.  It is great to see how ALU and Ericsson have come out with what can only be described as a huge change in their roadmap.  The wireless vendors have a real chance to offer a fantastic seemless experience to their users unlike the "best effort" (and sometimes frustrations) that wifi offers customers today.


I still have questions of how this will fit with Femtos.  ie.  Will these small cells use self organising network (SON) features and will they use a standard interface like IuH.  It is my view that without SON these small cells cannot re-use frequency bands and thus the solution isn't scalable.  Also without a standard interface there is no ability to compete and drive competition which ultimately drives down the price of equipment and the service.


Finally, as small cells are essentailly comodotized units - will the companies that provide the components (chip vendors) really be providing commodity prices like femtos?  I have my doubts that the SoCs from Freescale and TI can compete with Broadcom and Qualcomm's femto chips here in the medium term - especially when the volume ramps.

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from LR Mobile Column
Mobile operators are coming to terms with their supporting role in the mobile apps world
After a sluggish start, mobile banking will grow exponentially in the US market through 2015
LTE mobile device sales are expected to reach anywhere from 500,000 to 1M units in 2011
China's ranks of 3G subscribers will more than double this year, reaching 40M units
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed