Worth seeing in Barcelona: CommScope’s xRAN antenna and virtualized baseband radio
- CommScope announces open 5G radio/antenna solution
- Based on xRAN open interface specifications
- Supports millimetre-wave spectrum with a beamforming active antenna array
CommScope will be showing a new integrated antenna solution based on xRAN open interface specifications. XRAN is an emerging set of open standards designed to soften up the traditional RAN. It is, if you like, the wireless equivalent of SDNFV or, as xRAN.org itself defines it, an effort to develop, standardize and promote a software-based, extensible Radio Access Network (xRAN) and to standardize critical elements of the xRAN architecture.
CommScope claims its open interface will allow wireless operators to mix and match radio access network (RAN) hardware from multiple vendors.
The hardware (there has to be hardware, even in a virtualized RAN) is a 5G radio/antenna solution that supports millimetre-wave spectrum. But the key point is that it takes instructions from a completely virtualized baseband with an open interface. The solution integrates a beamforming active antenna array operating at 28 GHz.
CommScope says wireless operators can use COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) servers to trial virtualized network functions for fixed wireless access applications.
The solution includes a base station antenna with full 120-degree beam-steering of four independent MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) ports, using a CommScope patented 256-element antenna array; plus an integrated remote radio unit housed in a compact enclosure of less than 10 litres volume, passively cooled and optimised to fit within concealment solutions.
“Our integrated antenna will enable the full capabilities of 5G millimetre-wave spectrum bands while offering maximum flexibility in an evolving air-interface environment,” said Farid Firouzbakht, senior vice president, RF Products, CommScope. “As a contributing member to the xRAN organisation, we endorse the benefits of an open baseband interface for enabling more innovation in the wireless marketplace.”
The ultimate logic of the xRAN architecture is that, if adopted, it could allow mobile services to evolve or iterate in a granular way not really possible now. However, that’s an approach that might not be so attractive to many vendors and mobile operators who set great store by the ten year mobile standards cycle and will worry that things like completely virtualized baseband solutions will chip away at that approach. Nevertheless, xRAN has some powerful old guard members, such as Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Telstra, Verizon and SK Telecom on the operator side, and Nokia, Intel, Texas Instruments, Aricent, Radisys, Mavenir and Cisco from the technology supplier industry.