Lighting the Way for 5G

Lighting the Way for 5G

Miraculous. That is what springs to mind when one listens to the list of capabilities that 5G networks are proposed to bring to the market: single-digit millisecond latency, bit error rates comparable with fibre networks, massive scalability in connected devices, and broadband capacities that will satisfy the needs of our Gigabit Societies. These are lofty claims for any technology. As with most things in life, the devil is in the details. It is true that 5G networks are being developed to address all of the capabilities I described and many more.

However, it is important to note that not all of the scenarios will be available together at the same time, from the same cell location. Some of the use cases will be serviced from existing macro cell locations, while others are going to demand the use of small cells that are located much closer to the end- user device. In particular, the very-high-capacity use cases will require the use of much higher frequencies and broader spectrum allocations to deliver on the needs of Gigabit Societies. Most acknowledge that a 100 fold densification of cell sites will be required, along with backhaul capacities in the range of 4 Gbps or 5 Gbps for each small cell location to deliver the capacities that will be demanded by future Gigabit Societies.

While millimeter wave radio backhaul will have a role to play in the backhaul of these 5G networks, the reality is that very-deep fibre deployments will be required to realize the ambitions of 5G. That is where some of the largest challenges and opportunities exist. It is no secret that the buildout of new fibre networks is CAPEX intensive and takes time. Those countries that have invested heavily in Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) infrastructures are likely to secure the earliest large-scale 5G advantages, simply because they will have much of the painstaking infrastructure work already complete. Modern PON networks also have a significant role to play in accelerating 5G small cell deployments, by permitting the existing fibre access networks to be utilized for 5G Xhaul. Implementing wavelength separation within an existing PONs provides an unbeatable combination of time to market, coupled with the necessary separation of mission critical Xhaul traffic from basic residential Internet access.

This capability, when coupled with the SDN control of the access infrastructure, can provide a network layer that can breathe based on the demand profiles of the users. Using wavelength slicing in conjunction with centralized SD-Access control can ensure the maximum network capacity is always available, while simultaneously delivering massive operational costs savings in the form of reduced power consumption during off-peak times.

With ADTRAN's vOLT platform, the capability exists to permit the coexistence of GPON, XGS-PON, and up to eight TWDM NGPON2 wavelengths simultaneously. With the potential for 100Gbps symmetric capacity per PON, the ADTRAN Mosaic Cloud Platform and disaggregated vOLT solutions will stand proud as a shining light that is driving 5G.