Infinera has expanded its mobile fronthaul and backhaul product ranges to support the stringent performance requirements of mobile operators as their networks advance towards 5G. The new products include flexponders for mobile fronthaul and a new EMXP Access Unit for mobile backhaul, which extends the capabilities of the XTM Series platform.
Mobile operators can choose from multiple future fronthaul scenarios, but risk stranding their investment if the deployed fronthaul option is not able to adapt as 5G standards continue to evolve. Products must be able to support 4G today and evolve smoothly to 5G in the future, Infinera asserts.
Critical parameters for future 5G networks include low latency, superior synchronisation and new fronthaul-specific capabilities including real-time delay compensation that enables better support for the radio access network in fibre protection scenarios. The chosen solution must also be reconfigurable in software to support anticipated fronthaul protocol changes and must include hardened and non-hardened platform options to support different deployment environments.
Infinera says its new products address these challenges. The new range of flexponders for mobile fronthaul provides mobile operators with deployment flexibility via rack-mounted unit, hardened access unit and hardened clamshell options. All units are fully reconfigurable to operate as transponders, as muxponders, or in hybrid mode, a level of flexibility that Infinera believes is unique to the industry. The flexponders offer service flexibility with support for Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI) mobile fronthaul protocols and Ethernet in both 4G and 5G environments.
Infinera’s packet-based mobile backhaul product range now includes a new EMXP Access Unit that is suited to hardened environments such as street and cell site cabinets. The new unit supports a common software and feature set with the rest of the EMXP range, which includes Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) services, low latency, superior Synchronous Ethernet and 1588v2 synchronization and sophisticated network resilience options.
According to Infinera, its mobile fronthaul and backhaul products are designed to be fully open to support software-defined networking (SDN) control by any orchestrator and offer the ability to transport signals from any radio vendor’s equipment. For mobile backhaul, Infinera’s complete range of EMXP units now also support a direct Openflow interface, controlled by Infinera’s Xceed Software Suite. This provides a multi-layer SDN control platform and SDN applications.
“Mobile operators are increasingly looking to deploy Cloud RAN commercially for LTE Advanced Pro and expect the technology to play a key role in 5G,” says Gabriel Brown, principal analyst, mobile networks, at Heavy Reading. “Among the challenges operators face are diverse implementation options and uncertainty about the functional split in the 5G RAN, making it critical that high-performance fronthaul transport solutions are sufficiently flexible that they can be upgraded, in software, to meet future requirements.”
Commenting on the announcement, Sten Nordell, CTO metro business group at Infinera, said: “The mobile industry is on the cusp of a step change to 5G. While the radio network needs to radically transform to the new 5G infrastructure and services, the underlying transport network requires a seamless evolution that protects operator investments now. One key aspect to this is the ability to support future 5G mid-haul and cross-haul architectures in a truly open transport environment without lock-in to the radio vendor. We are already working with key players in the industry to allow pre-5G networks to be tested against high-performance transport networks and will demonstrate this at Mobile World Congress.”
The hardened clamshell and EMXP Access Unit are scheduled for availability in the second quarter of this year; the rest of the products and features listed above are available and shipping today.