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Don’t let the transport network slow your run to 5G


A week ago, I attended the inaugural conference of the 5G Canada Council (5GCC) in Ottawa, Canada, launched by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). It was a great opportunity to see executives from Canada’s mobile operators (e.g., Bell Canada, Shaw Communications, Rogers) and hear their perspectives on 5G.

Especially interesting was to repeatedly hear the statement that 5G is “more than radios.” Indeed, 5G will be driving transformation of the whole mobile network. On the path to 5G, major network changes are already affecting the architectures of the radio access network (RAN), the packet core, and content delivery networks. The mobile transport network also needs to transform so that it can be ready to handle extremely large traffic volumes and help achieve stringent 5G performance targets.

The RAN is evolving from distributed to centralized and further to cloud-based architectures. Full virtualization of packet core functions – in the form of cloud-native packet core – has been achieved, setting the stage for important 5G enablers such as network slicing. Distribution of packet core functions across the network allows further improvement of performance and service quality.

Application and content servers continue to find their place in mobile cloud data centers, and content is shifting closer to users. Multi-access Edge Computing is gaining momentum because it provides agile content processing at the very edge of the mobile network, allowing an ultra-responsive low-latency experience.

The mobile transport network needs to evolve in step with these technologies – or perhaps evolve first – to accelerate the evolution to 5G. It plays a key role as the underlying “fabric” or mesh that connects mobile elements, facilitates user–device interconnectivity, and ensures access to the internet and cloud data centers.

Big changes ahead for IP mobile transport

Mobile networks have effectively been all-IP since the Evolved Packet Core was introduced for LTE. This means that all interfaces in the 4G/LTE/LTE-A architecture are based on IP protocols. Given that an immense number of end-user devices use IP as their communication technology, it is easy to see why centering the transport network around the IP networking paradigm is such a good choice. IP-based mobile transport provides a solid foundation for end-to-end, cost-efficient control of network resources, along with operational transparency to all IP services that run in the network.

While new network interfaces in 5G will continue to be all-IP, 5G also brings new demands that can’t be satisfied with existing mobile transport networks and architectures.

5G demands

To address these demands, a next-generation IP mobile transport network must provide:

  • Extreme bandwidth with terabit-capacity products that support up to 100 GE link speeds, delivered in a variety of compact form factors (some of them temperature hardened for outdoor applications)
  • Low latency to facilitate the evolution to packet-based fronthaul and enable cost-efficient use of the same network for fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul
  • Enhanced QoS to allow service providers to customize and optimize services according to demanding service-level agreement (SLA) requirements for a diverse range of new applications
  • Dynamic interconnectivity to support large-scale deployments of Multi-access Edge Computing and mobile cloud data centers
  • Improved synchronization to support the stringent timing, frequency and phase synchronization requirements of 5G, and provide robust and flexible timing options (GNSS, SyncE, IEEE1588v2, BITS) for the most demanding services and network technologies
  • Built-in security that can protect the 5G network’s much larger attack surface by surgically filtering out harmful traffic at the perimeter
  • Programmability that supports software-defined networking (SDN) control and automation and facilitates the use of techniques such as network slicing. 



Be unstoppable on your path to 5G with Nokia IP Anyhaul

Nokia takes pride in helping service providers get to 5G sooner, in a cost-effective manner that ensures network, service, and business continuity. In case you missed industry headlines last week surrounding the launch of our ReefShark chipset, Nokia now has the silicon processing power to accelerate 5G radio deployment.  

Our IP Anyhaul portfolio is a part of our end-to-end 5G Anyhaul solution and this is how it will help address critical network requirements on the path to 5G:

  • Multigigabit cell site connectivity through additions to our 7210 Service Access Switch and 7250 Interconnect Router (IXR) product families
  • Dynamic interconnectivity through our 7250 IXR product family, which is designed and optimized for cloud data center interconnectivity applications, and through an innovative solution that supports automated, multi-domain interconnectivity of network functions across the network and distributed cloud data centers
  • High-performance aggregation through our widely deployed Service Router SR/SR-s product families, now powered by the FP4 processor.

Visit our website to learn how our IP Anyhaul solution can help you create value for your customers and get to 5G faster by supporting ultra-broadband connectivity and new IoT applications.

It is a part of our Future X network architecture for 5G - to help deliver breakthrough network performance and reduce costs.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #IPAnyhaul #Anyhaul

Alex Pavlovic

About Alex Pavlovic

A telecommunications engineer by training, Alex is Nokia Deepfield global marketing lead and a firm believer in cutting-edge technologies like 5G and big data-driven networking. To disconnect and recharge, Alex follows the lead of his whippets Ziggy and Kokko, practices the art of Tsundoku, and keeps the valves of his tube audio gear warm with jazz.

You can connect with Alex on LinkedIn.

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