April 9, 2009

Migration to All-IP Radio Access Network (RAN) Transport

  • Cisco Systems
Mobile network infrastructures are quickly evolving as mobile operators expand beyond voice to bring high-speed services, available from IP networks and the Internet, to subscribers. The result is the emergence of networks that are becoming mobile versions of the high-speed Internet or a "mobile Internet."

One of the key areas of focus for mobile operators in this transition time, as they rush to deliver robust mobile Internet services, is the Radio Access Network (RAN). Mobile operators must dramatically reduce the cost per bit in their current backhaul solutions while providing transport for third-generation (3G) technologies, the next wave of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies, and traditional technologies. The move to the all-IP RAN is the single largest infrastructure challenge facing mobile operators.

This paper explores a strategy for mobile operators to implement an IP RAN backhaul network that is independent of the RAN as they migrate to an all-IP RAN. This strategy allows mobile operators to cost-effectively provide the bandwidth, backhaul scalability, affordable transport, and intelligent network features necessary to support the Connected Life, the Internet-everywhere experience. As devices in the RAN evolve to support IP, Ethernet, and other transport types, mobile operators can replace portions of the RAN, such as radios, in a graceful and cost-efficient manner. A review of current and evolving RAN architectures and migration strategies follows, along with a review of carrier-class features necessary in the all-IP RAN.



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