One Size Rarely Fits All: Tailoring Optics Solutions for 5G

From shoes to suits, there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. This is particularly true as it relates to technology advancements and making the right moves now to plan for 5G network architecture requirements in the future.

While previous “generations” (3G, 4G) represented significant upgrades to data capacities and speeds, 5G represents a shift in increased demand for interconnectivity of all devices –connected homes, cars, entertainment, and industries.

Adding Network Flexibility and Density

So how do optical transceivers fit in? All wireless data eventually comes back into the core network through fiber optic communication. Optical fronthaul carries data from the remote radio-head (RRH) at the top of the tower down to the baseband unit (BBU) at the bottom of the tower. The optical backhaul infrastructure carries data from the individual BBUs back to the switching core. In any given deployment, a key component of success is determining the most cost-effective blend of fiber-optic and wireless technologies for each area of the network.

With 5G and the evolution of the radio access network (RAN) towards a centralized RAN (CRAN) architecture, the throughput and complexity of the optical fronthaul network increases. 5G and small-cell sites will require anywhere between 2 and 12 fibers per site. Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), packet-based fronthaul and bi-directional optics all can reduce the amount of fiber required at each cell site. Densification of the 5G network (anywhere from two-to-five times that of current LTE deployments) means both more 5G and small-cell radios and more associated optical transceivers.

Off-the-Rack vs. Tailor Made
One of the biggest challenges is that there’s no “off the shelf” 5G network architecture that applies everywhere.Just as you need creative, innovative solutions from the wireless radio providers to meet
your needs in various geographies, housing densities, and rural versus urban environments, a tailored optics solution is also critical as you look to optimize your 5G network plans for ease of deployment and future growth. The options can be overwhelming:

  • CPRI, eCPRI, and ethernet SFPs from 1G to 25G for optical fronthaul
  • Bi-directional SFPs for single-fiber solutions
  • CWDM and DWDM (fixed and tunable) transceivers for WDM based fronthaul solutions
  • 40G/100G/200G/400G for backhaul and wireless core network connectivity
  • Support for optical break-out applications: 40G to 4x10G, 100G to 4x25G
  • cTemp and iTemp solutions for both controlled environment and outdoor/ruggedized applications

Engaging with a valued optical provider in parallel to working with the wireless OEMs provides the best combination of wireless radio solutions AND the optics you will need to connect them. In today’s optics industry, OEMs are often relying on suppliers for the actual transceiver manufacturing. It’s the difference between an off-the-rack suit and a bespoke version… if you willingly pay over 50 percent more for the off-the-rack suit. Sounds crazy, right?

Integra Optics can work with you on a tailored solution that helps you add density and network flexibility for future 5G requirements. Remember as a wise man once said, just because a suit fits doesn’t mean it looks good. Don’t settle for overpriced off-the-shelf optics solutions as part of a bundled solution.

Talk to one of our optics experts today.