Small cells or Cloud RAN? Do you understand the trade-offs?

The dense network of the future will be enabled by Cloud technologies, which may show themselves well suited to managing dense network deployments. But there are trade-offs to be made.

By Frank Rayal

Mobile network operators (MNOs) have more choices of radio access network elements today than ever before. The need to densify the wireless network based on the premise that more access nodes leads to higher network capacity has fueled innovation on how to achieve this objective within stringent cost constrains imposed by the ability of MNOs to monetize mobile data services which constitutes the bulk of traffic in the network. Small cells in the form of compact base stations are one aspect of densification while distributed antenna systems (DAS) and distributed radio systems (DSR) based on base station hotel concepts, where centralised baseband processors are connected to remote radios, are other forms. In the last couple of years, a new concept has emerged which provides yet another approach for network densification: Cloud RAN.

Read the FULL ARTICLE in TMN Quarterly, Issue 6

“Cloud RAN was originally conceived for macro cell deployments… however it holds much promise for deployment in heterogeneous network. In fact, this is where Cloud RAN can have its debut in active networks.”

“This brings us to the challenge facing Cloud RAN implementations: how to balance the greatest in performance benefits against the cost of fronthaul?”

“Small cells have high flexibility on the quality of backhaul which sacrifices performance. On the other hand, Cloud RAN provides the ultimate in performance at the cost of high fronthaul requirements.”

Read the FULL ARTICLE in TMN Quarterly, Issue 6