Network evolution from 4G to 5G is expected to have a massive impact on the backhaul architecture. Besides driving up the per-cell throughput by at least 10x when compared to 4G/LTE, 5G is also expected to lead to a massive 100x increase in the number of user devices through “Internet of Things (IoT)”, a significant reduction in network latencies by a factor of 10x to support real-time tactile Internet applications and an ultra-reliable network for a seamless service experience. The overall network architecture for 5G will be vastly different from previous mobile generations in terms of a) densification or an increase in the number of cell sites per unit area, b) cloudification or greater centralization of baseband resources and c) disaggregation or flexible separation of control and data plane for higher scalability and dynamic resource allocation. New features such as enhanced coordinated multipoint, dual connectivity (X2 and eX2 interface) and carrier aggregation make 5G radio access networks more complex to construct. Together these changes will put greater demands on the transport network and drive massive investments in backhaul fiberization to accommodate the consequent growth in traffic.

It is therefore imperative that telecom operators investing in 3G and/or 4G networks today select optical products that can smoothly evolve and effectively meet these disruptive requirements of 5G in the near future.  It should be possible to maximize reuse of existing network equipment in order to realize a cost-effective optical transmission infrastructure with adequate flexibility and scalability. Tejas has evolved an optimized “cross-haul” architecture for 5G-ready transport. The benefits of the new architecture for a telecom operator are the following:

  1. Compatiblility with traditional transport-style operations that lowers retraining costs without sacrificing network/service capabilities
  2. Reuse of existing investments in L2 transport; selective introduction of L3 functionality (e.g., L3 VPN) to meet specific service needs without requiring expensive network overhaul
  3. Support for a variety of advanced 5G apps such as massive IoT, ultra-low latency applications, ultra-high speed urban and slow-speed rural mobile broadband on a common infrastructure through network slicing
  4. Adoption of simpler converged packet optical transport equipment with MPLS-TP and OTN support
  5. Seamless evolution to SDN architecture with centralized control plane and to NFV with large-scale virtualization of network services