MWC: BT trials cloud radio access network for 5G

Researchers at BT’s Adastral Park Labs in Ipswich say they have created a cloud radio access network (C–RAN) mobile service over copper.

Dr Tim Whitley

Dr Tim Whitley

In partnership with US-based chip firm Cavium they used technology to deliver cellular data over copper lines at speeds of 150-200Mbit/s.

The traditional backhaul connection is optical fibre and BT claims this will remove the need for mobile operators to invest in backhaul links over dedicated fibre connections,

Dr Tim Whitley, MD for Research & Innovation at BT said:

“These technologies will play a key role in C–RAN is a new network architecture used to connect cellular basestations to mobile operators’ core networks. A traditional approach to C–RAN requires a dedicated fibre link to connect transmitters at the top of a cell tower to complex signal-processing equipment deeper in the network. This can involve complex and costly engineering work if no fibre is present in the ground to carry the signal.”

The demonstration, which can be seen at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, uses Cavium OCTEON Fusion–M basestation and ThunderX server processors in this new class of radio access.

As well as exploring the role that may play in helping operators to roll out their 4G/5G networks, Openreach, BT’s local access network division, is also trialling as an access technology in Huntingdon and Gosforth, alongside a further BT technical trial in Swansea.

“ is significant because by building on current fibre-to-the-cabinet technology, it allows Openreach to bring ultrafast speeds to a wide footprint far more rapidly and without the expense and disruption of running fibre directly into a home or business,” said BT.

The company aims to provide ultrafast speeds to 10 million homes by 2020 and to the majority of the UK within a decade.



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