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BT trials Cloud RAN over G.fast

BT has successfully used G.fast technology to deliver a ‘Cloud Radio Access Network’ (C-RAN) cellular network service over copper, in an experiment believed to be a world first.

C-RAN is a new network architecture used to connect cellular base-stations to mobile operators’ core networks. A traditional approach to C-RAN requires a dedicated fibre link to connect transmitters at the top of a cell tower to complex signal-processing equipment deeper in the network. This can involve complex and costly engineering work if no fibre is present in the ground to carry the signal.

Researchers at BT’s Adastral Park Labs in Ipswich, in collaboration with US-based semiconductor manufacturer Cavium, Inc. (NASDAQ: CAVM), have demonstrated that they can use G.fast technology to deliver cellular data over copper lines at speeds of 150 – 200Mbps.

This removes the need for mobile operators to invest in costly, high capacity backhaul links over dedicated fibre connections. By providing a far more economic ‘fronthaul’ connection between the base station and the mobile operators’ core network, a C-RAN service delivered over G.fast would significantly lower the cost of deployment for mobile operators building out 4G networks today and 5G architectures in the future.

Dr Tim Whitley, MD for Research & Innovation at BT said: “Using G.fast to deliver a cellular network is an exciting breakthrough for C-RAN and yet another world first for our team of researchers at Adastral Park. These technologies will play a key role in 4G networks and will be fundamental to 5G architectures. The trials are another step towards a fixed and mobile network which will support customers’ increasing demands for data.”

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