vRAN Fronthaul

The vRAN Fronthaul project group focuses on developing virtualized RAN solutions that can be deployed and operated over non-ideal fronthaul between virtualized Baseband Units (vBBU) and Remote Radio Units (RRU).

Group Structure

The group is currently evaluating multiple non-ideal fronthaul use cases led and sponsored by Operators in four different TIP Community Labs.

The Project Group is Co-Chaired by:

Richard MacKenzie (BT)
Andrew Dunkin (Vodafone)


A virtualized RAN architecture consists of vBBUs running on general purpose hardware installed by mobile operators in centralized or edge data centers, and RRUs installed at cell sites. The vBBU centralizes processing and allows co-location and pooling of baseband resources for a localized cluster of cell sites, leading to spectral efficiency gains via coordination, and CAPEX/OPEX saving by reducing the number of sites and per site expenses.

Most vRAN solutions today use the Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) protocol to transport the digitized RF data between vBBU and RRU. CPRI however requires dark fiber transport which in many deployment use cases is not available or not affordable, limiting the opportunities for operators to pursue vRAN deployments at scale.

The vRAN Fronthaul project group is evaluating vRAN solutions that can be deployed and operated over existing transport infrastructure such as microwave, managed Ethernet, G.Fast, GPON, Hybrid Fiber/Coax (HFC), and other options. The project aims to create a diverse and healthy ecosystem of technology and equipment providers that will support a variety of deployment scenarios such as high density indoor deployments, campus deployments, urban/suburban residential small cells, and rural connectivity.

Technology Trials

TIP Community Lab: Adastral Park, Ipswich, UK
Sponsor: BT
Project Lead: Richard MacKenzie

Pico/Macro Street Coverage over G.Fast:
This use case focuses on providing street level coverage. RRUs could be deployed on drop poles and existing copper infrastructure then used as the fronthaul connection to vBBUs, which may be located at local exchanges. In particular G.Fast technology is seen as being a suitable candidate for vRAN fronthaul.

Campus Deployment over Managed Ethernet:
A campus environment that has existing infrastructure (e.g. Managed Ethernet) is a very exciting proposition for deploying a high capacity small cell network. The vRAN solution would use the existing managed Ethernet infrastructure as fronthaul between RRUs and vBBUs. The RRUs may be a mix of indoor and outdoor cells for coverage and capacity purposes.

TIP Community Lab: Louisville, Colorado, USA
Sponsor: CableLabs
Project Lead: Joey Padden

Cable and mobile network operators have extensive hybrid-fiber-coax (HFC) network coverage around the world. This use case focuses on fronthaul compression and latency tolerance to allow vRAN deployment over an existing cable HFC and DOCSIS network footprint. Deployment targets include indoor residential small cells as well as dense small cells in urban areas.

TIP Community Lab: Torino, Italy
Sponsor: TIM
Project Lead: Marco Caretti

This use case targets efficient use of fiber where compression is the first priority to ensure long term exploitation of broadband access technologies used for residential or business users, and existing fiber assets and their evolution (i.e. PON and, looking at the wider bandwidths envisaged for 5G, next generation PON technologies). In addition to compression, latency tolerance will provide additional robustness in scenarios where baseband units are installed as far away as the metro central office and connected to the remote radios and antennas through a shared packet network.

TIP Community Lab: Manesar, India
Sponsor: Airtel
Project Lead: Sawan Gupta

This use case evaluates the feasibility of using centralized vRAN over non-ideal fronthaul to reduce TCO and improve user experience. Due to limited 4G spectrum, this use case will also study the scalability when supporting high subscriber densities. Finally, this use case will focus on compression and latency tolerance to enable vRAN deployments over multi-hop microwave links designed to maximize the reach of the Airtel network.

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Events & Talks

Past Events

Dec 3, 2018
Santa Clara, CA, USA

RAN USA 2018

We attended RAN USA in December in Santa Clara, and presented early results from the lab trials.

October 16-17, 2018

ExCel Centre
London, UK

TIP Summit ’18

We attended TIP Summit, in October in London, with several presentations and demos.

June 11-15, 2018

London, UK

London Tech Week 2018

TIP vRAN FrontHaul over G.Fast at 5G World event in London Tech Week 2018

Thanks to British Telecom, Mavenir and ADVA teams for putting together an end-to-end integration showcasing the TIP vRAN FH initiative. This integration was sponsored by BT at the 5G World event held in London during the week of June 12th. What a great way to demonstrate the progress of TIP technologies! Interesting to note — in a few months, we will be at the same venue for TIP Summit 2018 – looking forward to showcasing the next level version of this integration then.

November 7-8, 2017

Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, CA

TIP Summit ’17


TIP Summit 2018 (vRAN Panel)

TIP Summit 2017 (Airtel – Sandeep Gupta)