Mobile broadband is approaching a point where cellular infrastructure is a viable substitute for fixed broadband in many markets. In this new environment, mobile operators are seeking ways to increase network capacity and coverage while reducing time to market for new services and achieving lower total cost of ownership.
To accomplish this, they must cost-effectively combine multiple standards, frequency bands, cell layers and transport network solutions, while at the same time shortening latencies and handling substantially increased data rates.
By introducing Cloud RAN architectures, operators will be able to use Network Functions Virtualization techniques and data center processing capabilities in their networks. This allows for resource pooling, scalability, layer interworking and spectral efficiency.
Cloud RAN gives operators the chance to co-execute certain radio access network (RAN) functionalities with other network elements and functions, possibly in a data center environment. Cloud RAN is not a single rigid formula but a somewhat fluid combination of virtualization, centralization and coordination, which all interact with each other in a variety of ways within the network.
In addition, Cloud RAN can provide further benefits in terms of more separated and decoupled scalability of the different parts of the RAN functionality, as well as a decreased need for dedicated radio hardware (enabling use of more commercial off-the-shelf components that can reduce the time to market for new services) and options to mitigate functional and capacity asymmetries introduced by future, much more capable radio access technologies.