ABI Research: RAN Virtualization Goes Beyond C-RAN with RF Routing

April 8, 2015

Modern mobile communications networks are in the midst of profound architectural changes as they adapt to exploding volumes of dpamobile traffic as mobile network operators (MNOs) fight to maintain or minimize capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX) while maximizing coverage and capacity on their increasingly congested networks.

The situation is no less serious for in-building or in-venue wireless systems and perhaps even more demanding for the MNO, owner, or operator since, by many accounts, about 80% to 95% (depending on the venue and the market) of mobile traffic is consumed and / or generated indoors. Conventional in-building wireless systems use distributed antenna systems (DAS) but other technologies such as Wi-Fi and small cells are also good choices in some situations.

ABI Research believes that radio access network (RAN) virtualization is one of the top-five technology disruptors and a technique that is rapidly being brought to bear on solving these challenges. One of the first applications to feature RAN virtualization will be in-building and in-venue wireless systems, wherein a virtualized system distinguishes itself from conventional DAS, centralized or cloud RAN (C-RAN) and small cell systems by offering low total cost of ownership (TCO) and technologyagnostic RF distribution with autonomous capacity steering for higher system utilization.