Cisco and Telstra complete world’s first 5G call over packetized fronthaul network

Via Cisco

Mar 2, 2020

SYDNEY, Australia – March 3, 2020 – Cisco and Telstra have completed a world first with a 5G Sub 6 GHz radio call over a packetized fronthaul network (X-HAUL) utilizing Cisco segment routing to improve network resiliency for Telstra customers.

An initiative funded through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration program, the companies are collaborating on the development of a converged end-to-end, IP packet-based transport network. The network is built on top of an optical base layer and based on segment routing with QoS, aligning with the best future-proof design that meets operator requirements for 5G.

This innovation could allow Telstra to provide even more resilient transmission networks for its 4G and 5G base stations. The solution uses a technology called segment routing that simplifies the network design, optimizes the delivery of data packets and improves the overall scalability of transmission networks. For Telstra, it could provide the ability to deliver future services to its customers that will require more stringent and demanding data transmission requirements.

This significant milestone of the first 5G call over a packetized fronthaul network demonstrates the successful use of packetized enhanced Common Public Radio Interface (eCPRI) radio frames along with network timing services over a converged SDN transport network. It means that when there’s a fault, Telstra can utilize the resiliency functions that have been built over internet architecture and re-route network traffic using an alternate path. This increases the robustness and resiliency of the mobile network for Telstra customers.

Further improvements to Telstra’s network resiliency in the trial include using Cisco’s Network Services Orchestrator to automate failover between cell site and baseband units if any issues are detected.

The evolution from a Distributed Radio Access network (D-RAN) to a Centralized Radio Network (C-RAN) is one of the key enablers for realizing the full potential of 5G. The same platforms and architecture support heterogenous radio transport technologies, including CPRI and Open RAN framing as well as all of Telstra’s radio access types. Packet transport enables service convergence, statistical multiplexing gains in the case of eCPRI, as well as improved resiliency.

“We are excited to extend our collaboration with Cisco to mark this important milestone,” said Ashley Hunter, Network Engineering Executive – Wireless Access, Telstra. “Telstra continues to explore ongoing  network enhancements with our partners and this is another collaborative example of how we could use this technology to improve our 4G/5G network capabilities to dynamically and flexibly scale to high bandwidth requirements for the future.”

“With this achievement, Telstra has implemented the necessary enhancements to enable a wide range of future 5G use cases,” said Sanjay Kaul, President, Asia-Pacific and Japan, Cisco Service Provider Business. “Cisco has created best practices in fronthaul and segment routing, demonstrating the true benefits to help Telstra realize new revenue opportunities with 5G, while reducing costs and mitigating risk.”

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