Let's Split! Ericsson's New Adventures in Radio

Ahead of Mobile World Congress, Ericsson is hitting a trifecta of sexy tech buzzwords with its new split virtual radio architecture plans.

The vendor is virtualizing (ding!) some of its Cloud-RAN (ding!) system with a distributed (ding!) network architecture that handles some radio functions at the radio nodes (a.k.a. remote radio heads [RRHs]) at the cell-site and moves others to the core.

The "split baseband architecture" virtualizes "the higher layer of the radio protocol," Sebastian Tolstoy, head of marketing and communications at Ericsson, tells Light Reading. The RRHs would handle time-sensitive functions, while resource management can be managed at the core.

The idea builds on existing Cloud-RAN and smart radio concepts, such as Ericsson's own radio Dot ideas, by pulling radio functions that can be handled in software (which is to say inexpensively) on standard servers into the core. It will mean that RRHs will need to handle specific functions at the cellsite too. (See What the [Bleep] Is Fronthaul? and C-RAN Blazes a Trail to True 4G.)

Don't hold your breath for a split-baseband architecture being deployed this year or next though. Tolstoy is aiming for 2018 for commercial services using the technology.

The new interface for a split baseband architecture will need to be standardized first. Tolstoy says that the vendor will work with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) on that.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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