Guest Blogger - Joe Neil, Network Architect - Microchip, Inc
5G will enable a combination of advanced network and radio services that together will introduce a new level of flexibility in network architectures. Current models of static DRAN / CRAN networks complemented by DAS and Small Cells, will be synthesized into very high speed sliced, virtualized networks, served by the Ethernet Elastic RAN (eERAN) that will enable true 5GNR wideband low-latency services to be delivered from any size of radio cluster. Simultaneously, frequency aligned FDD radio networks will be replaced or complemented by phase-based TDD access to enable management of the more precise Time Alignment Error at the Radio Interface that is required by the 5GNR Advanced coordinated radio services.
Moreover, 5G will require agility and flexibility: the evolution from a monolithic BBU to the split CU / DU, from proprietary fiber to Ethernet on the fronthaul, and to extremely tight phase alignment between RU, will require a high performance, high reliability timing architecture. The ability to rapidly add bandwidth on demand by upgrading the switches and routers in the RAN, to dynamically change the RF TAE requirements according to spectrum and frequency band availability, to deploy eERAN on demand where and as needed, to seamlessly re-engineer or change upper layer (OTN, L2, L3) services – all without impacting the critical end to end timing of the network, will also be a fundamental attribute of a well-designed, robustly engineered 5G timing infrastructure.
In this discussion we will examine the different options for engineering advanced timing services in this evolving paradigm.