Ericsson launches enhanced radio system aimed at enabling new 5G use cases

Responding to service providers’ need for flexibility in the RAN, Ericsson is launching the RAN Compute portfolio, an architecture that allows service providers to flexibly distribute RAN functions where needed.

The RAN Compute portfolio includes all the current basebands in addition to four new RAN Compute products that provide up to three times the capacity of current basebands. Two new RAN Compute basebands enable service providers to deploy RAN functions centrally, or at the radio site, while two new RAN Compute Radio processors enable RAN functions to be placed closer to the radio for enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency applications.

It’s worth spending some time on the different RANs. There’s distributed RAN, or D-RAN, which is the traditional way of deploying radio access networks where the baseband and radio are co-located. C-RAN involves locating the baseband in a central location and the radio and antenna are distributed. Then there’s E-RAN, or elastic RAN, where there’s coordination between the central hubs and the distributed RAN, creating a seamless network from the user’s perspective, according to Nishant Batra, global head of Network Products at Ericsson.

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Ericsson also announced a new spectrum sharing software product, which promises a smooth and fast network migration between 4G and 5G within the same spectrum band. It’s based on the 3GPP Release 15 standard.

This type of technology could come in handy if an operator, for example, wants to refarm some 4G spectrum to 5G. Rather than converting an entire spectrum swath to 5G—which would be impractical at this stage because 5G is so new—an operator could use this product and do it dynamically. So if there’s a 5G user present, the base station makes the decision and gives the resources to 5G, but if there are no 5G users, then it is allocated for 4G. “It’s a very efficient way to use spectrum,” Batra told FierceWirelessTech.

Separately, Ericsson announced it is strengthening its transport solutions by adding technologies from Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom.

The company has a long-standing relationship with Juniper—on the order of 18 years—and many service providers are looking for end-to-end solutions that require tighter integration between the 5G radio transport layers, so the expanded relationship with Juniper was a natural fit, according to Sally Bament, vice president, Service Provider Marketing, at Juniper.

Both companies have multipartner strategies, but Juniper sees this as very significant in terms of the 5G market, she told FierceWirelessTech.

Ericsson’s Router 6000 product family will be complemented by Juniper’s edge and core solutions, providing seamless connectivity from radio cell site to the core, thereby improving the performance, ease of use and quality of the 5G system. Juniper’s security products are also part of the deal.

Ericsson announced it also is complementing its optical transport offering for metro with a new partnership with ECI, a provider of elastic network solutions. The transport solutions from Juniper and ECI are interoperable with Ericsson’s transport portfolio and will be managed by the same Ericsson management and orchestration solution.

The management and orchestration solution also will provide integrated software-defined networking control for Ericsson, Juniper and ECI nodes, enabling automated network control for applications such as network slicing and traffic optimization.