MFH: Mobile Fronthaul

MFH: Mobile Fronthaul

The Mobile Fronthaul (MFH)

White Paper: Mobile Fronthaul with Improved OTN Mapping

Leading Tier 1 mobile operators worldwide are gearing up for the next step in mobile networks technology – LTE-A (Advanced) and 5G.
LTE-A and 5G networks will offer a huge increase in end-user bandwidth as compared with current mobile network technologies, supporting new generations of portable devices and applications.

In order to deliver a massive increase in end-user bandwidth, LTE-A networks hinge on the deployment of a massive number of small, cost efficient radio access antennae (RRH, Remote Radio Heads), at relative short distances from each other.

This step function increase in the number of cellular antennae requires a drastic change in the way that Radio Access Networks (RAN) are deployed.

The prevailing practice with current generation 3G and LTE networks is to provide a Base Station Controller (BSC) adjacent to each cellular radios tower.
The BSC is responsible for managing the cellular traffic being handled off each specific antenna.

However, with the projected dramatic increase in the number of antennae, as much as 10X as compared with current LTE networks, this design architecture collapses on itself.
The enormous cost that would be associated with providing such a huge number of baseband controllers, the power that they will consume as well as major technological challenges and economies of scale dictated a transition to a new type of RAN – the C-RAN, or Cloud-RAN.

In a C-RAN the baseband unit controllers (BBUs) are concentrated in centralized sites, typically central offices (COs).

The digital samples of the cellular radio signals are transported from the RRHs to the CO for shared processing over an optical fiber infrastructure known as the Mobile Fronthaul, or MFH.

These digital samples are transported over a widely accepted protocol, CPRI, which stands for Common Public Radio Interface.

Typical CPRI signal rates originating at each and all of the RRHs would be CPRI option 3, operating at a rate of 2.5Gbps, CPRI option 4 operating at a rate of 3Gbps and CPRI option 5 operating at a rate of 5Gbps.

 Therefore, the mobile front-haul network (MFH) establishes the connectivity in between the centrally located BBU pool and a large number of remotely located RRHs.
Accordingly, the MFH becomes a key enabler towards the implementation of C-RAN based LTE-A and 5G cellular networks.

In this context, IP Light has pioneered the adaptation and optimization of the current G.709 OTN standards, culminating with the introduction of the recent ITU-T G Suppl.56 document in order to support the specific requirements of upcoming MFH networks.
You are welcome to follow our MFH Networks Tutorial at our Applications page.