About Joe Mocerino

As Principal Solutions Architect, Joe engages wireless and wireline operators and partners in the mobile xHaul ecosystem. His mobile transport expertise includes fronthaul, backhaul, CPRI, packet, OTN, and SONET technologies. Joe has designed, developed, and deployed wireless and wireline transport solutions that maximize capacity and coverage for high-value automated operation. A fan of music and fitness, Joe enjoys playing guitar in his home recording studio and cycling.

Network Slicing Made Simple

To deliver on the promise of 5G, this next-generation technology will enable multiple new service streams virtualized through a common infrastructure. With all the different use cases for 5G, these services will have diverse performance requirements, which adds to the challenges of delivering them in an efficient way. To overcome these challenges, tomorrow’s networks will rely on network slicing.

The 5G radio consists of three distinct elements as defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP): radio unit (RU), distribution unit (DU) and central unit (CU). In the 5G New Radio (5G NR), multiple RUs hand off data to the DU. Network slicing begins within the DU by identifying specific services and allocating virtualized, isolated resources. The transport network interoperates with the DU and CU for dynamic service delivery and resource allocation, while the network operation uses multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) segment routing for dynamic establishment of resources. 

There is, however, a simpler and more cost-effective way of engineering and maintaining the MPLS segment routing elements. This involves physically separating the control and user planes using disaggregation, and operating the control plane in the cloud. Contrasting the cloud control plane to a traditional router will illustrate the benefits of this approach. 

A traditional router platform consists of an integrated control and user plane, in the form of a chassis and plug-in cards. These chassis come in multiple sizes based on performance and capacity supported. Each chassis dimension has integrated control and user plane regardless of the chassis size. Therefore, scaling is limited to that fixed dimension, meaning they always scale up to a limit. This means that — from Day One — the platform will typically only run at 20 to 30 percent capacity, but will still have to reserve the full footprint, power and thermal allocation of full loading. This is a very inefficient use of CAPEX. Furthermore, each of the deployment sites runs the risk of under- or over-engineering the capacity. Too small a dimension with an under-capacity site results in loss of revenue through unfulfilled demands, while an over-engineered site is an inefficient use of capital.

Control Capacity in the Cloud

Alternatively, the disaggregated approach consists of a programmable, purpose-built blade forming the MPLS-segment routing common infrastructure, and a decoupled virtual control plane in the cloud. When a new service is required, a virtual routing instance is generated in the control plane and provisioned throughout the virtual network, including resilient alternate pathways, end-to-end, based on the service level agreement (SLA).

Once calculated for the virtual network, the programming is pushed down into the common infrastructure. These cloud micro-services offer real protocol isolation per virtual router instance, where each protocol is running in its own container and brought together as one virtual router application instance. Multiple virtual router instances with full isolation can share the same network element hardware, offering a very CAPEX-efficient scaling operation. We refer to this as a scale-out approach via linear resource scaling, resulting in better infrastructure utilization versus traditional routers. 

Applying the cloud control plane approach to network slicing based on upcoming 5G services offers simplified operations and capacity scaling using virtualization to dynamically allocate and provision services to customers. As services are provisioned, the virtual routing instances are provisioned end-to-end for each service and customer on a global basis, then pushed down to the programmable network elements running the user plane.

This simplified operation offers full resource guarantees with reduced operational complexity, resulting in faster time to market/revenue return, while lowering the cost per bit using a capacity efficient virtualized network. This allows for the construction of one common infrastructure where individual network elements are minimized and right sized for capacity with multiple virtual networks, enabling many diverse service use cases to fully realize the potential of 5G.

The Reality of Delivering the 5G Vision

With the start of 2019, the era of 5G is officially here… or is it? Are you ready? While a few early market leaders are already hyping 5G services, most service providers are still making plans. And as the build-out begins, the reality of deploying complex new architectures is introducing a variety of challenges.

Due to the increased speed and capability that 5G promises, service providers can expect mobile subscribers to consume more and more data, particularly rich multimedia content. Add to that the flood of device-to-device communications expected with the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as new use cases for the smart home enabled by fixed wireless access, and it’s easy to see that substantially greater capacity, scalability, reliability and performance will be needed — from the first mile all the way to the edge.

Intelligent RAN Plan

Next-generation 5G networks will require robust transport infrastructure, including a dense radio access network (RAN) architecture with distributed intelligence. This increasing densification means more advanced topologies in the access part of the transport network, as well as evolved fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul (i.e., X-Haul) interfaces.

As the 5G RAN becomes increasingly virtualized, service providers will be able to dynamically support a range of use cases with varying demands using SDN control and orchestration. Plus, a key benefit of this virtualization is the opportunity to disaggregate the optical transport network, simplifying the evolution to an integrated and modular 4G/5G network that is highly programmable.

However, X-Haul deployment plans will be highly dependent on the varying capacity needs and latency sensitivities of the specific use cases to be supported, requiring careful consideration of many different factors.

Vision to Reality

The potential for significant revenue from diverse 5G services is very real. And with a robust transport network capable of adaptively handling multiple open radio interfaces, network latencies and virtual infrastructures, your network will be able to support countless devices and applications, delivering the full 5G experience.

Yet, the complexities of next-generation architecture mean that service providers are essentially in uncharted waters as they transform this vision into reality, requiring them to fundamentally rethink network design and deployment. For this reason, Fujitsu is working closely with leading network service providers to help them plan, design and deploy 5G networks that will allow them to deliver new services they can monetize immediately, while preparing for more evolved use cases in the future.

To help other service providers learn from our real-world experience, we’ve published a paper entitled “Transporting 5G from Vision to Reality” that examines 5G transport challenges, the evolution of the RAN architecture, best practices for design and deployment, early business model opportunities and a vision for the future.  Click here to download this informative paper.

5G Transport: The Impact of Millimeter Wave and Sub-6 Radios

Part two in a blog series about how Fujitsu is bringing the 5G vision to life

As communications service providers (CSPs) prepare to deploy 5G, a number of factors will need to be considered as they plan their radio access network (RAN) architecture. An important aspect of this planning is an understanding of the 5G radio interface (NR) specifications and spectrum options.

Both millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6 GHz radio architectures have a fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul in terms of transport. However, the differences in the coverage aspects of these two radio types will define the network topology.

The high frequencies of mmWave radios result in reduced coverage of a given area, requiring a more dense deployment outside of traditional cell towers. The mmWave radios will be deployed in a small cell type of configuration, since a large number are required to cover a given area.  In urban areas, the dense deployment of mmWave radios will most likely be on street lamps, and the side or top of buildings. Sub-6 radios, however, enable coverage configurations similar to 4G LTE radios. Therefore, Sub-6 radio topology could be similar to a C-RAN LTE fronthaul, in which dark fiber is used where available, and some form of multiplexing such as WDM or packet multiplexing is used where fiber is lacking.

Initially, the mmWave radios will be best-suited for high throughput applications such as fixed wireless access (FWA), while sub-6 radios will be best used for mobility.  In the long term, both radio types will be used for both use cases.

Since sub-6 radio coverage dynamics are similar to LTE, many CSPs will consider deploying sub-6 much like 4G LTE in a C-RAN to realize DU pooling efficiencies and offer higher performance using cell site aggregation.

Alternatives to a centralized pool of DUs, whether mmWave or Sub-6 radio, is an integrated DU and RU which eliminates the fronthaul transport and discrete fiber connections between the two.  This alternative expedites service delivery while reducing capital and operational expense, but also eliminates pooling and cell site aggregation capabilities.  Cell sites with integrated DUs will have midhaul, or what the IEEE refers to as fronthaul-II, in this section of the RAN transport.

Based on the various deployment options for mmWave and Sub-6 radios, either WDM based transport or a newer packet based transport using Time Sensitive Ethernet (TSN) will be used to pass 5G eCPRI/xRAN channels, as well as legacy 4G CPRI channels, from the cell site to a central aggregation point when an abundance of dedicated dark fiber is not available.

This blog is the second in a series about our vision for 5G transport. See part one here.

5G Transport: From Vision to Reality

Part one in a blog series about how Fujitsu is bringing the 5G vision to life

On the road to 5G, there are a number of different paths that communications service providers (CSPs) can choose. This blog is the first in a series about our vision for the 5G RAN, and how Fujitsu is working with leading CSPs to co-create these networks and bring 5G to life.

Transport is vital for building a robust and reliable network. The xHaul ecosystem consists of the backhaul, midhaul and fronthaul transport segments.  Dedicated dark fiber, WDM and packet technologies are used within these transport segments. As CSPs evolve their networks from 4G / LTE to 5G, there are several options explaining how those transport networks will be designed.

In a “Split Architecture,” the distribution unit (DU) connects to many macro site radio units (RUs) over multiple fronthaul fiber paths. This is a similar architecture to the 4G central RAN (C-RAN) where there is a central point; the DU in this case, fanning out to multiple macro sites for interconnect with the 5G radios, also known as RUs or Transmission Reception Points (TRPs).  This efficient technique is referred to as RAN Pooling, and along with cell site aggregation, offers mobile network operators the ability to engineer the RAN capacity based on clusters of sites coming into the central point DUs, instead of individual cell site demands.

The “Distributed DU” architecture involves DUs collocated with RUs at the cell site.  The distributed DU use case offers a latency sensitive architecture by eliminating the fronthaul transport path.  The fronthaul becomes a local connection between the top and bottom of the tower via fiber cable.  This is a low latency configuration, which also reduces costs by eliminating the fronthaul transport section.  The tradeoff is a loss of multi-site pooling and cell site aggregation with macro cell sites. Moreover, the midhaul capacity is reduced to 10GE rates.

Finally, there is the “Integrated DU” architecture, which integrates the DU into the RU at the cell site.  This architecture offers similar benefits as the Distributed DU use case, but with an additional advantage of lower CapEx and OpEx by combining these devices.   The combined DU and RU reduce the number of devices to install, manage and maintain resulting in expedited service turn-up and faster time to revenue.

To learn more, register for an archived webinar “New Transport Network Architectures for 5G RAN” with Fujitsu and Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown: www.lightreading.com/webinar.asp?webinar_id=1227

Four Key Ingredients Solve Network Business Challenges

Network operators face seemingly conflicting challenges. They must maximize network assets, reduce costs, and introduce new revenue-generating services—all while maintaining existing legacy services. This may seem like an impossible combination to achieve, but just four key capabilities provide the right ingredients to reconcile apparently conflicting needs and profitably address these big business challenges:

  • Transport legacy services in groups. Individual legacy service instances are often transported separately, which makes inefficient use of network and fiber resources. It is more efficient to combine multiple instances into batches that can be transported together at higher bit rates.
  • Combine multiple services onto a single fiber. Fiber resources are expensive and constrained. Freeing up fiber capacity or reducing the number of leased fibers needed to sustain growing networks by transporting additional services over a single fiber pair saves on fiber resource costs.
  • Efficiently pack 100G wavelengths. Many 100G wavelengths are inefficiently utilized, cumulatively wasting a large amount of capacity. If more services can be transported over existing 100G wavelengths, the network is more efficient and additional costs can be avoided.
  • Provide transparent wholesale services. Services that support a range of SLA choices by allowing demarcation and providing visibility into traffic, management, and alarms are attractive to customers and a valuable source of revenue.

You may be surprised to find out that an often-overlooked technology, Optical Transport Network (OTN), provides all four of these capabilities. OTN is a standard (ITU-T G.709) digital wrapper technology that allows multiple services of various types to be packaged and transported together at higher rates. This universal package is ideal for transporting legacy services, which makes better use of network resources while simultaneously benefiting from modern technologies and rates. OTN also inherently allows an end customer access to network management and performance data. Finally, as networks move to 100G transport, OTN provides an easy means of filling partially utilized 100G wavelengths by transparently delivering a combination of services. Overall, OTN is a highly viable option that deserves serious consideration for network modernization. On grounds of both efficiency and ongoing revenue opportunities, OTN carries excellent potential for long-term ROI.

A Better Radio Access Network Delivers Performance and Savings That Can’t Be Ignored

The tried and true distributed radio access network (RAN) is the standard in mobile architectures. Significant improvements in performance—and reductions in capex and opex—would be required for service providers to consider making substantial changes.

But these are no ordinary times. The exploding popularity of digital video and social networking are driving wireless traffic relentlessly higher. In fact, a recent Cisco VNI study shows that worldwide mobile data traffic is growing at a 57% compound annual rate in the six-year period beginning in 2014.

What began as 2.5 exabytes per month two years ago will reach 24.3 exabytes per month before you know it.

Given this explosion in wireless traffic, C-RAN, the centralized radio access network, provides just the bonuses that make network upgrades a wise investment.

Evolving to a C-RAN architecture makes dollars and sense:

  • RAN performance can increase up to 30% through gains in spectral efficiency, cell site aggregation, and scalability.
  • Capex can be reduced up to 30% through savings in site acquisition, construction costs, and equipment efficiency.
  • Opex can be reduced up to 50% through savings in rent, power consumption, capacity management, and operation and maintenance.

“Mobile operators are increasingly seeking to deploy Cloud RAN architectures for efficiency and performance reasons,” said Gabriel Brown, senior analyst, Heavy Reading. “To disaggregate the radio access network into centralized baseband and distributed RF components requires a fronthaul solution that can meet stringent reliability, scalability, and opex targets.”

A new C-RAN solution from Fujitsu includes a smart WDM system with integrated diagnostics, remote visibility, self-healing functionality, and ultralow latency. The result is fast installation, high service availability, and a dense, scalable architecture that adapts easily to growing demand.

Learn more here.