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Broadband Forum: 5G Transport Network Architecture Must be Holistic

July 16, 2020 By Finley Engineering in

5G is driving mobile operators to take a holistic approach to transport network architecture, according to new research from the Broadband Forum.

In its whitepaper, “5G Network Architecture Overview,” the industry group says that cooperation is needed for a successful 5G rollout. The networks will require intelligent, automated coordination between mobile core networks and the radio access network (RAN), as well as from the underlying transport network to meet 5G demands.

Additionally, according to the research, the transport network will need to evolve so that operators will be able to provide the needed capabilities practically and effectively. To do so, transport networks will need to leverage the numerous technology advances that have debuted since the rollout of LTE.

“5G is driving mobile operators to take a holistic approach to transport network planning,” said Robin Mersh, CEO of Broadband Forum, in a prepared statement. “The technology also brings a significant increase in capacity, requires an estimated doubling of radio sites deployed, and the need for a new architecture with new RAN and Core interfaces. These new architectures and new interfaces each have specific requirements that must be met not only by the mobile equipment, but by the underlying transport network.”

The Broadband Forum is paying particular attention to 5G transport. The standards forum is documenting a new 5G Transport Architecture and Requirements specification. This new spec introduces the use of new transport and routing technologies and applies them to the 5G split RAN architecture.

Technologies leveraged by the standard include IPv6, segment routing, MPLS, Ethernet VPN (EVPN) and others. Primary goals include enabling effective and scalable transport networks to support operator 5G deployments, in conjunction with LTE and 4G operations.

“While the initial focus in 5G is on potential use cases and the radio technology itself, 5G cannot exist without a transport network to support it,” added Joel Halpern of Ericsson, editor of the 5G Network Architecture white paper.  “The use of 5G network architecture requirements, such as those being created within Broadband Forum, will ensure operators can enhance and migrate their existing networks to support the new capabilities 5G needs in order to deliver on the promise it has while protecting their existing investment.”

Transport for 5G represents a potentially significant business opportunity for Finley Engineering clients. These and other 5G technology initiatives will help shape how to best maximize that opportunity.