Centralized radio access network (C-RAN) is a big part of the evolution towards 5G. With the expected increase in cell site density to address scaling in end-user devices and bandwidth, C-RAN becomes a key aspect of managing cost and maintenance.
By centralizing the BBU infrastructure and allowing the RRHs to be located up to 15 km away, the MNO can extract significant savings. Centralizing the BBU reduces space and power costs from the cell site, and locating it centrally, in a lower-cost facility, saves on real estate, power and cooling costs.
The challenge now is managing the fronthaul fiber network and diagnosing radio issues remotely—in order to reduce truck rolls and debug time.
Having the right tools, processes and technology to monitor and diagnose faults both in the fiber and RF infrastructures will be critical to extracting full value from the transition to C-RAN.