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IEEE 5G Working Group Finishes Fronthaul Standard

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Piscataway, N.J. -- The IEEE 1914.1 Task Force has recently released a D1.0 – first complete version (draft) of a Standard for Packet-based Fronthaul Transport Networks that will then proceed through revisions and approval chain within IEEE 1914 Next Generation fronthaul Interface – NGFI (xhaul) Working Group.

On the road towards future 5G networks, it is clear that an efficient transport network is necessary and traditional fronthaul solutions are not suitable for 5G evolution. The current mobile networks are comprised of multiple separate network domains. This creates serious challenges for network operators, such as low scalability, inflexible management and control solutions, slow and difficult upgrades, poor resource utilization, and high cost. This project was started to facilitate the implementation of key 5G technologies especially Cloud-RAN and Massive multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) from fronthaul networking perspective, and describe the required networking architecture to enable migration to 5G and C-RAN/V-RAN solutions.

Major achievements of a work that started in 2015 cover:
  • Definition of network architecture and deployment scenarios
  • Specification of Classes of Service
  • Throughput analysis for 3GPP functional splits
  • Network slicing framework definition
  • Synchronization requirements analysis as well as synchronization distribution scenarios
  • Operation, Administration and Maintenance (OAM) requirements
  • IEEE 1914.1 scope covers architecture and requirements for various functional split options and transport network solutions

    IEEE 1914.1 standard would help to design NGFI solutions with the following advantages:

    High scalability

  • Enabling C-RAN/V-RAN deployments
  • Supporting optimized fronthaul bandwidth scaling proportionally with user traffic
  • High resource utilization

  • On air interface by supporting cooperative techniques like CoMP and MIMO
  • On transport interface allowing statistical multiplexing
  • High flexibility

  • Supporting 5G as well as legacy deployments
  • Enabling SW upgrades of mobile nodes
  • Low cost

  • Facilitating open RAN interfaces
  • Being transport-technology independent
  • Leveraging mature standard transport solutions like Ethernet, IEEE 1588, SyncE
  • Unifying management and control solution, common networking protocols, and universal network elements
  • “As the 5G tests and trials are moving into top gear in the industry, it is really nice to see that the requirements on the fronthaul networks are finally being consolidated. There is no doubt on the importance of the fronthaul for 5G. The development of the fronthaul requirements will point to a clear direction for fronthaul technology selection/development. We are very happy to see that the IEEE 1914 WG is leading on this front and share their progress with the industry partners in a timely manner, which enhances the industry synergy”, said Dr. Chunfeng Cui, Director of Green Communication Research Technology Center from China Mobile Research Institute.

    “We consider NGFI working group as a place where experts on fronthaul can jointly define future xhaul networks. It is important to bring together mobile network operators and telecom vendors to evaluate requirements and solutions for fronthaul or xhaul networks. Ethernet is indeed a transport solution that can optimize fronthaul deployments”, said Dr. Aleksandra Checko, Project Manager and Senior Systems Engineer from MTI Radiocomp, currently serving as an editor of IEEE 1914.1 standard.

    Currently the draft is under working group review process, which is to be finished by Q3 2018.

    Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)

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