This is part of our ‘5G Anyhaul’ blog series providing expert insights and best practices to help you prepare your transport network for 5G and support innovative services that create new revenue opportunities.
As 5G approaches, fiber access networks are a leading contender for providing mobile anyhaul. Their performance, physical proximity to small cells and high automation capabilities make them a good fit for the massive connectivity needed in mobile transport. These benefits are already proven in LTE networks where FTTH is used for backhaul. But as 5G technology develops to deliver a new generation of mobile services, there will be a need for smarter anyhaul solutions that can automatically adapt to deliver the best quality of service (QoS) for any service. For this, traditional SNMP-based solutions will give way to virtualized and fully programmable software-defined access networks (SDAN).
For mobile anyhaul traffic to reliably share network resources with residential services on a fixed network, network functions will need to be dynamically configured in response to changing traffic patterns and the low-latency needs of 5G applications.
With SDAN, a network can be “sliced” into discrete virtual networks, each with its own characteristics for capacity, latency and QoS. For example, one slice for residential or business services; another slice with higher priority QoS for mobile anyhaul. Importantly, parameters can be automated and dynamically configured according to demand, maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of a shared infrastructure.
This flexibility extends to different virtual RAN architectures. 5G will use a distributed access architecture where network functions previously found in radio units are virtualized and moved into central or distributed units. For greater efficiency, network functions should be closer to the core where they can be shared between more radio units; for greater performance, network functions should be closer to the edge so that latency is minimized. With SDAN, virtual network functions can be moved dynamically between distributed and central units depending on the service they provide and demand at any given moment. For example, autonomous vehicle applications with ultra-low latency needs can be dynamically moved to distributed units closer to the end-user.
Another advantage of SDAN is its ability, if desired, to be agnostic, meaning multi-technology and multi-vendor environments are easy to manage. Nokia’s Altiplano cloud-native access platform, for example, has virtualized the ONU Management Control Interface (OMCI), which means you can have a much bigger choice of ONU to connect the radio, distributed or centralized units. This flexibility lets you choose whatever ONU has the right features for your radio access network, which reduces costs and lets you deploy new services and innovations much more quickly.
Finally, it’s important for the anyhaul network to be able to develop as 5G develops. Initial deployments of 5G will simply be like 4G on steroids, focusing on delivering greater bandwidth for mobile users; later will come Industry 4.0 applications with their ultra-low latency requirements. Nokia’s Broadband Anyhaul portfolio supports this transition, providing a smooth migration of your existing access nodes, from traditional SNMP-based to SDAN-based, with Altiplano providing unified management throughout the transition. This avoids any disruption to your existing services and lets you manage investment effectively.
The automation, programmability and flexibility that software-defined access networking brings will ensure fixed networks are able to meet all the developing requirements of 5G Anyhaul.
Visit our Broadband Anyhaul page to learn how we can help you prepare your transport network for 5G and support innovative services that create new revenue opportunities.
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