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May 25 2018

Now you can integrate fronthaul & backhaul: Meet 5G Crosshaul

3 years, 20 companies, 18 groundbreaking experiments deliver 5G transport network solution

After working for several years in product development, I jumped on an opportunity back in 2015 to participate in a unique research project (5G-Crosshaul), driven by Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever*. Their focus was on “breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market… and removing barriers and making it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.”  Music to an innovator’s ears. Now, after almost three years of intense work – the project results have been audited by the European Commission Horizon 2020 program as “having fully achieved its objectives and milestones and delivered exceptional results with significant immediate or potential impact”.  

On a more technical note, the project comprised a consortium of twenty industry-leading companies who set forth to develop a 5G integrated backhaul and fronthaul transport network that enables a software-defined reconfiguration of all networking elements. The transport network flexibly interconnects 5G radio access and core network functions hosted on in-network cloud nodes. This is achieved through a control infrastructure using an abstract network model and a unified data plane encompassing innovative high-capacity transmission technologies and novel deterministic-latency switch architectures. So here we are, three years later, with 5G-Crosshaul now the de-facto concept for the 5G integrated fronthaul/backhaul transport network.

5G Crosshaul

Real-world trials of the 5G-Crosshaul solution took place at sites in Berlin, Madrid, Barcelona and Taiwan, and delivered sub-millisecond latency, tens of Gbps throughput, and energy and cost savings up to 70%, depending on the deployment scenario. Extensive trials also demonstrated fast service deployment time (fast meaning minutes!) leveraging both SDN and NFV. This shows that the same physical transport network can be used to transport both fronthaul and backhaul traffic of 5G networks simultaneously, greatly improving the efficiency of these networks. We performed 18 experiments integrating multiple technologies to demonstrate these results. Most  have been documented in short videos, which you can view here at the  5G Crosshaul project website.

In order to help Communication Service Providers keep pace with the evolving transport requirements of wireless services and applications on their path to 5G, Nokia turned research into a set of Nokia 5G Anyhaul solutions for microwave, IP, optical and next-generation PON networks. These technologies support an extensive range of capacities and can be deployed in a variety of topologies.

Contact us to learn how you can apply the Nokia 5G Anyhaul solution to your network.

Visit this dedicated website for more on the 5G-Crosshaul project.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia and @nokianetworks using #5G #Crosshaul #Backhaul #Fronthaul

*The project has received funding from the European Commission Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No H2020-671598.

About Thomas Deiss

Thomas is a Systems Architect for mobile networks with 20 years of experience on transport networks for mobile communications including research projects related to SDN and NFV. But even dedicated computer scientists need screen downtime, so Thomas unwinds by playing the recorder.

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