China Mobile was in news a few times the last month with regards to Metrocells and C-RAN. The first item from TelecomAsia:
Alcatel-Lucent has unveiled a new TD-LTE metro base station for its lightRadio product line that will be deployed by China Mobile, which co-developed it.The compact lightRadio Metro Radio – revealed at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – houses two lightRadio cubes, fully integrated with a directional antenna, with an output of 5W.Alcatel-Lucent says the design allows it to “provide the coverage normally associated with a much bulkier, heavier remote radio unit linked to an external antenna via an RF coaxial cable.”China Mobile will deploy the 2.6 GHz Metro Radio in its TD-LTE network in Shanghai, Nanjing and Qingdao – specifically, in busy indoor and outdoor locations like shopping centers where macro coverage can suffer either from building density or too many people trying to access the network.The Metro Radio is the first product to result from a co-creation agreement signed by Alcatel-Lucent and China Mobile just over a year ago to conduct joint development and test activities on lightRadio TD-LTE projects.
An article on the same topic in Rethink-wireless throws a bit more light:
China Mobile (CMCC) has been pushing the cloud agenda for a long time. A whitepaper from them on the same topic is available here.ASOCS Ltd., a Silicon IP provider of software defined radio solutions and CMRI, Research Institute of China Mobile (CMCC) Ltd., the world's largest mobile operator, have signed a strategic memorandum of understanding for the joint development, commercialization, testing and deployment of large-scale baseband processing units for China Mobile's next generation Cloud-RAN network.Earlier trials undertaken by leading mobile operators, identified the bottleneck of Centralized Base-band Units, consisting of general purpose CPU, to perform major baseband calculations in cost and power efficient management. The solution was to introduce significant offloading capabilities of such calculations with highly specialized Modem Processing Units (MPU).Today there is a growing understanding in the industry that such MPU should support a wide range of system partitioning, topologies and real time system performance, including large scale Collaborative Multi-point communications (COMP) and massive MIMO. Since communication algorithms are evolving over time, and since the C-RAN concept provisions on-the-fly reconfiguration of the BBU to support a variety of mobile communication standards, an MPU solution which is re-configurable at runtime has a great advantage over traditional hard-wired designs.
Picture source: NTT Docomo press release
NTT Docomo is another operator who believes very much in C-RAN. Occasionally it refers to the C-RAN as Centralized RAN. There were couple of announcements from their side:
The first one was a press release from Docomo here:
Another one from Rethink-wireless here:
NTT DOCOMO, INC., Japan’s leading mobile operator and provider of integrated services centered on mobility, announced today it will begin developing high-capacity base stations built with advanced C-RAN architecture for DOCOMO’s coming next-generation LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) mobile system. The new architecture will enable quick, efficient deployment of base stations, especially in high-traffic areas such as train stations and large commercial facilities, for significantly improved data capacity and throughput.Advanced C-RAN architecture, a brand new concept proposed by DOCOMO, will enable small “add-on” cells for localized coverage to cooperate with macro cells that provide wider area coverage. This will be achieved with carrier aggregation technology, one of the main LTE-Advanced technologies standardized by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The small add-on cells will significantly increase throughput and system capacity while maintaining mobility performance provided by the macro cell.High-capacity base stations utilizing advanced C-RAN architecture will serve as master base stations both for multiple macro cells covering broad areas and for add-on cells in smaller, high-traffic areas. The base stations will accommodate up to 48 macro and add-on cells at launch and even more later. Carrier aggregation will be supported for cells served by the same base station, enabling the flexible deployment of add-on cells. In addition, maximum downlink throughput will be extendible to 3Gbps, as specified by 3GPP standards.
If you are wondering what 'LTE-B' or the 'true 4G' is, see this post here.
In South Korea, both KT and SK Telecom have announced C-RAN strategies for their LTE deployments, dubbed Cloud Communications Center (CCC) and Smart Cloud Access Network (SCAN) respectively. As early as June 2011, SKT had deployed 1,772 RRHs and 609 baseband units within its LTE network in capital Seoul. The lower amount of baseband units suggests an average of almost three RRHs per baseband unit, assuming each RRH is single sector.
The above two pictures are from the Small Cells Standardization presentation here.
An old article from Rethink-wireless mentions the following:
Do you have an opinion on the C-RAN architectures in the future? If yes, we would like to hear.