Microsemi delivers scalable fronthaul solution for 4G and 5G mobile networks

Microsemi Corporation, a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, has announced a new mobile fronthaul solution, built on its DIGI-G4 family of Optical Transport Network (OTN) processors, that will enable high capacity fronthaul connectivity for converged 4G and 5G centralised radio access networks (C-RANs). The solution, which will be highlighted at The Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition (OFC) March 21-23, breaks new ground by extending 100G OTN into the RAN to simultaneously aggregate high density Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI), 10GE and 25GE radio links. It also enables up to a 10 times increase in capacity, while introducing innovations to address the need for low latency with automatic link equalisation, and network security.


Mobile operators worldwide are evolving their RANs from a distributed to a centralised base station (C-RAN) model as a means to cost-effectively grow mobile capacity and prepare for 5G. According to market research firm IHS, C-RAN deployments will grow at 23 percent annually through 2020, representing greater than 60 percent of all 4G RAN deployments in that timeframe.


As mobile operators continue to add new LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) features such as carrier aggregation and higher order multiple in, multiple out (MIMO), and densify with small cells over their existing 4G networks, the CPRI interconnect between distributed radios and centralised baseband needs to scale by a factor of four times to a 10G rate. With the transition to 5G, fronthaul connections will need to scale up to 200Gbps, driven by dense 25GE Ethernet links from 5G radio heads.


“C-RAN is becoming the go-to network architecture as mobile operators address the need for increased capacity, but until now the lack of a cost-effective and fiber-efficient approach to building fronthaul networks impeded the industry’s transition to C-RAN,” said Babak Samimi, vice president and business unit manager of Microsemi’s communications business unit. “With the ecosystem continuing to cost-optimize 100G optics, in addition to the unique innovations integrated in our DIGI-G4, Microsemi has put forward a compelling answer to the fronthaul networking challenge that not only delivers on the significant increase in optical capacity needed, but allows operators to drive C-RAN deployments anchored on a unified architecture that allows for a seamless transition from 4G to 5G.”


Unlike conventional wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) solutions that allow for one-radio per WDM link, Microsemi’s DIGI-G4 OTN fronthaul architecture allows for the aggregation of multiple 4G or 5G radios links into 100G OTN connections which deliver up to 10 times the capacity scaling over existing optical infrastructure. Differentiated with an embedded optical link security engine, integrated patent-pending real-time link latency equalisation and simultaneous support for 4G CPRI and 5G Ethernet protocols, Microsemi is helping redefine the capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX) cost of ownership paradigm in building fronthaul networks for mobile operators.


“Microsemi has been a long-time key enabler for China Mobile to deploy 100G OTN switching in the metro and long haul network,” said Dr. Li Han, deputy director of the Network Department of China Mobile Research Institute. “We are pleased to see Microsemi extending its OTN leadership to 4G OTN fronthaul and actively prepare for 5G OTN fronthaul by enabling cost-effective, low-latency, high capacity, and future-proof 100G OTN mobile fronthaul in its DIGI family.” 


Microsemi’s DIGI-based mobile fronthaul solution delivers a number of unique innovations, including:

Extending 100G OTN and enabling link security into fronthaul

•       Simultaneous aggregation of 4G and 5G radios into 100G links eliminates need for WDM optics

•       Embedded optical security engine to secure links connecting radios to baseband

Future-proof radio protocol support

•       4G protocols: CPRI option 5, 6, and 7

•       5G protocols: 10GE, 25GE, 40GE and 100GE

High performance fronthaul networking

•       Latency: as low as 8µs microseconds with forward error correction (FEC)

•       Up to 75 percent margin to CPRI jitter spec

•       Latency equalisation to within nanoseconds

Patent-pending automatic per link latency management and equalisation

•       Per CPRI latency measurement and reporting

•       Automatic uplink and downlink latency equalisation

•       Latency compensation for working and protect paths



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