Optical network equipment supplier Ekinops has introduced a fronthaul product that addresses wireless service providers' urgent need to increase data capacity affordably and efficiently by taking fibre all the way to the base station.
Ekinops says its platform supports both passive and active architectures or mixed approaches where both fronthaul and backhaul architectures are being used simultaneously, as network operators make the transition to the cloud radio access network (C-RAN). Fronthaul is being introduced as a result of radio site densification, driven by data capacity growth as well as the need for several different radio frequencies being used at a given site, requiring more radio heads per site.
"RAN evolution is driven by both technology and economics," said Francois Xavier Ollivier, CTO of Ekinops. "We are seeing the notion of fronthaul as complementary to legacy backhaul. We believe that gradually, fronthaul and backhaul will mix in order to optimise the mobile access network architecture."
The compact platform from Ekinops, with its low power requirements, is designed to limit operational costs and to be installed quickly, improving mobile operators' time to market.
Ekinops offers both passive CWDM and DWDM capabilities on a 1RU passive chassis that can hold various elements such as multiplexers and optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs), enabling a range of multiplexing schemes in single or dual fibre configurations.
The active DWDM approach focuses on Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) aggregation to allow the use of fewer fibres for greater efficiency in the optical portion of the network. This approach offers flexible multiplexing capability, with up to 10 aggregation and two line ports. This active solution is delivered through Ekinops’ C200HC-ETR chassis.
Addressing radio sites of different capacities, the Ekinops product is industrial temperature range capable, from -40°C to 85°C. It supports a broad range of client interface and line interface protocols. In a mixed fronthaul-backhaul scenario, it can transport legacy Ethernet backhaul traffic from already deployed base stations with Ethernet aggregating muxponders and transport fronthaul CPRI traffic. It also has a number of supervisory and management options.
For mobile synchronisation, the chassis' Sync-E port allows for carrying the frequency synchronisation – required for 2G to 4G standards – in packet-based backhaul networks. Advanced features also meet the synchronisation requirements of other protocols.