5G Is Rapidly Approaching, What Must Cable MSOs Do To Capitalize On This Business Opportunity (2018)

By Jon Baldry, Infinera

Over the last year there has been a dramatic shift within the wireless industry in terms of 5G preparation.

As the 5G standards have solidified, many wireless operators have shifted their transport network mindset from “4G transport that can evolve to 5G” to “5G-Ready now”. This has had a major impact on how wholesalers, and particularly cable MSOs who plan to sell transport services to wireless operators, need to address the market opportunity.

The most significant advance in wireless transport standardization over this period has been the additional clarity around the eCPRI standard and the performance demands this puts on the transport network. In 5G the underlying transport infrastructure moves from a collection of dumb pipes, albeit high performance pipes, to a highly dynamic network supporting:

  • Even higher demands on performance – Low latency, synchronization and higher capacity demands are a given with 5G.
  • Multiple transport functions integrated into a single network – The network must support legacy 4G infrastructure in parallel to new 5G Fronthaul I (low-split), Fronthaul II (high-split) and backhaul in a X-haul/any-haul environment.
  • Network slicing and support for virtualization of mobile infrastructure – dynamic movement of 5G resources around the network to support Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and fog networking requires dynamic transport that is SDN controlled and cloud-optimized. Network slicing at all layers will also play a critical role in supporting this environment.

To address these challenges, MSOs need networks that are flexible and open, and offer high performance now. Some wireless operators are already testing wholesale networks for key 5G performance metrics,such as eCPRI synchronization requirements, to prepare themselves for 5G.

This paper will describe the challenges associated with 5G and show how MSOs must evolve their transport services to adapt and grasp the exciting opportunity that 5G presents to the industry. This paper will address the issues, challenges and opportunities associated with the fiber-based footprint and services. Cable MSOs may well also be able to utilize DOCSIS-based services over the coax plant to augment the capabilities outlined in this paper to extend services further into access networks.

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