Today’s communication service providers (CSPs) are facing an exponential increase in processing demands placed on what is known as the “digital front end” or “layer 1” of radio access networks (RANs). ). In other words, the processing capacity placed at the radio site and delivered through RAN processors, radio processors and baseband units.
Increased demand for RAN compute processing
This is due to several factors, such as rapid growth in radio site deployments – including an explosion in the number of antenna branches (via Massive MIMO), higher bandwidth at increasingly higher frequencies, larger spectrum allocations in new band deployments and new requests for shorter transmission time intervals (TTIs).
Let’s put this in some context. In 2010, with LTE networks, a typical 20 MHz operator would only receive two transmission branches, with a transmission time interval of around one millisecond. Today, with 5G, the bandwidth of the carrier is now generally around 100 MHz – five times more than ten years ago – and served by Massive MIMO radios, containing 32 times the number of branches of transmission, at a transmission time of 0.5 milliseconds. Again, with context: this means that today’s CSPs are now required to deliver 160 times as much treatment, in less than half the time.
The need for compact and energy efficient base belts
To address these processing issues, we’ve also seen an explosion in how CSPs can deploy RAN computing power across their networks. In recent years, we have seen the network architecture evolve at a rapid pace, which means that CSPs can choose between a decentralized RAN (D-RAN) where the baseband and software functions are distributed in single units over or near the radio site, a centralized RAN (C-RAN) that provides centralized processing via front-end packet transport, processing integrated into the radio itself – as with our Street Macro and Massive MIMO solutions, and soon, Cloud RAN where all processing is done in the cloud.
Decentralized RAN, where computing power is placed closer to the user and also reduces RAN transport requirements and costs, remains the most commonly deployed architecture among CSPs today. However, with an explosion in the number of radio sites on CSP networks – which has clear implications for power consumption and site rental costs – it is very quickly becoming essential for the business that RAN processing units, such as baseband, are energy efficient, compact and flexible. in supporting multi-band technologies.
Ericsson Silicon – the little chip that makes a big difference
Our industry-leading RAN compute portfolio, which we launched in 2015, enables us to deliver this critical value to our customers – by delivering higher throughput, lower power consumption, and the flexibility to support all technologies and all network segments to provide our customers with a faster time to market.
At the heart of this system, and the foundation of our unique advanced processing capabilities, footprint and energy efficiency benefits, is our unique and robust custom silicon strategy.
With Ericsson Silicon, we have a crucial advantage in providing our customers with unmatched energy efficiency and network performance, a lower total cost of ownership, a wider range of portfolio innovations and security built into the hardware from the start.
Ericsson RAN Compute: market leader since 2015
Based on a modular architecture and using the Ericsson Silicon family of System on a Chip (SoC), an integrated circuit tailored for mobile networks, we are deploying Ericsson Silicon across the entire Ericsson radio system, including our band offering Market-leading core – the Ericsson RAN Compute Portfolio. . Relentless innovations like this allow CSPs to exceed end customer expectations and meet a wide range of deployment scenarios.
Thanks to Ericsson Silicon, our RAN compute offering provides many unique benefits to our customers, including:
Multi-band support built into one unit
Ericsson RAN Compute offers the highest possible processing capacity and simultaneous support for all supporting technologies and all frequency bands, from 2G to standalone 5G, FDD band to TDD band and CAT-M to NB-IoT. In addition, we are also unique in offering full multiband support in a single monolithic baseband unit – 33% more compact than other units on the market and flexible enough to meet increasingly challenging radio site deployments. .
60% more energy efficient
The demand for higher capacity and wider coverage is creating a demand for more radio site deployments, especially in dense urban areas. As a result, for CSPs it becomes even more critical for the business that they can maintain low operating expenses (OPEX). The Ericsson RAN Compute wallet not only brings tangible OPEX benefits in terms of significantly reducing power consumption by up to 60%, but it also reduces the weight on the tower and ensures faster upgrade through remote software configuration.
Future-proof base band
In addition to the OPEX benefits, remote software activation also makes Ericsson’s RAN compute fully scalable – meaning our customers can add capacity, new technologies and new features to their RAN compute network without having to their engineers need to physically visit all of their radio sites. This of course saves costs, but it also gives our customers a considerable amount of time to gain a business advantage over their competitors.
Today, Ericsson RAN Compute delivers vital processing power over the 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks of our customers around the world, including non-autonomous and autonomous architectures. They have also been deployed to power breakthrough 5G use cases which, in addition to ongoing behind-the-scenes testing in Ericsson’s many R&D labs, also include commercial trials such as the recent end-to-end multi-vendor voice call. bout with Deutsche Telekom, the 5G Orchestra with Vodafone Portugal and the ongoing 5G Robotics and Mixed Reality use cases at the MTS 5G Innovation Center in St. Petersburg, Russia.
For us, the journey is not over. In the months and years to come, the acceleration of standalone and mid-band 5G deployments will produce a wave of new 5G use cases and we expect this to further evolve the network architecture, which will place even higher demands on the RAN calculation.
As always, we are ready to work with our customers to tackle these challenges together.
Learn more about Ericsson 5G RAN.
Learn more about Ericsson Silicon.