In order to meet the goals of high spectral and energy efficiency demanded in future mobile/wireless networks, iCIRRUS proposes the combination of two key concepts: increased use of device-to-device (D2D) communications and the use of a centralised- or cloud- Radio Access Network (C-RAN). These are integrated with a mobile cloud which can further contribute to the increased spectral and energy efficiency, and enhanced overall performance, through intelligent monitoring.
End-users will benefit from iCIRRUS by increased device battery lifetimes, improved quality of experience through high-bandwidth, low-latency services, and with added resilience by utilising the mobile cloud.
The novel feature of iCIRRUS is to enable a converged 5G network supporting legacy mobile and fixed line services based on Ethernet transport and switching. The use of Ethernet to support all categories of the mobile network infrastructure, including Fronthaul, Midhaul and Backhaul, is something which has been distinctly lacking in the network evolution toolbox to date. Such a network infrastructure can dramatically reduce costs for operators and service providers, with the potential for these reductions to be passed on as lower prices for end-users.
Using optical fibre Ethernet to support all categories of mobile infrastructure enables:
- The possibility of a lower cost fronthaul (or midhaul) due to the widespread use of Ethernet equipment.
- The use of Ethernet-based networking and virtual networking techniques in the fronthaul/midhaul, for flexible interconnection of Base station Baseband Units (BBUs) and Remote Radio Heads (RRHs).
- The possibility for a converged access network transporting both fixed line and mobile fronthaul/midhaul and backhaul user data.
- The use of standardised mechanisms over the common Ethernet fronthaul/midhaul transport for Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM).
- Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) enabled by the use of smart optical hardware pluggable frame/packet inspection modules, to rapidly provide information to the intelligent processing.