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A leading telecommunications provider has introduced a number of cutting-edge products it has developed which will provide a smooth transition from 4G to 5G. Infinera Corporation, a multinational organization which is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, is a market leader in providing Intelligent Transport Networks.

The organization officially announced via a statement issued to the press that it has expanded its Mobile Fronthaul and Mobile Backhaul Solutions in an effort to support mobile operators as their networks prepare to evolve in order to become 5G ready.

Some of the new products introduced by Infinera include a range of Fronthaul Flexponders and a new addition to their Mobile Backhaul portfolio. However, Infinera also packaged existing equipment that they are able to use in a pre 5G testing environment. Jon Baldry, Marketing Director of Infinera's Metro Business Unit, explained the benefits and value proposition of the new products developed by the company.

Baldry said: "The value proposition is built around three main attributes of these products - which are flexibility, high performance and openness. The underlying benefit for mobile or wholesale operators of these attributes is protection investment as they bid to enjoy a smooth evolution to 5G. This enables them to build 4G infrastructure today and enjoy a smooth evolution to 5G avoiding rip and replace 4G hardware when they make the move to 5G."

Marketing Director of Infinera's Metro Business unit, outlined some of the big changes that will occur when 5G is adopted, although conceded it was difficult to predict when 5G will be fully integrated across the board.

Baldry said: "One of the big things that will happen with 5G compared to 4G is a massive increase in bandwidth. Low Latency is always important in mobile networks and in 5G it is driven by new applications and things like mobile edge computing and similar trends. Fronthaul becomes more pervasive in 5G. Both 5G and 4G are open in the sense of being RAN vendor agnostic, but there will be a much bigger drive in openness in terms of SDN control."

One of the really big changes is if you look at 2G to 3G - 3G to 4G - typically that kind of migration is simply replacing one network with another - the move to 5G will be using the current 4G infrastructure.

Baldry continued: "The move to 5G will see the continued use of the 4G infrastructure, so there will be new 5G infrastructure that will be put out in the field, the LTE specifications will continue to evolve - in fact the 3GPP is starting work on 5G and anticipates that LTE will continue to mature alongside the 5G standardization. 4G infrastructure needs to coexist with 5G infrastructure, and subsequently there will be a lot of new 5G infrastructure - but the 4G infrastructure will be a key part of how you build a 56 network."

Principal Analyst, Mobile Networks and 5G at Heavy Reading, Gabriel Brown expects the new technology provided by Infinera to play a key in 5G - but he pointed out some of the challenges faced by operators, pointing to the uncertainty about the functional split in the 5G RAN. Brown said: "Among the challengers operators face are diverse implementation options and uncertainty about the functional split in the 5G RAN, making it critical that high performance fronthaul transport solutions are sufficiently flexible that they can be upgraded, in software, to meet future requirements."

Jon Baldry said the next big step for Infinera in the transport space is the jump to 5G, but the key thing is while operators are looking at the options for a move to fronthaul now - they're going to need that flexibility today in order to migrate to 5G without having to rip and replace that transport network.

CTO Metro Business Group at Infinera, Sten Nordell, stated that the radio network requires radical transformation to new 5G infrastructure. "The mobile industry is on the cusp of a step change to 5G, while the radio network needs to radically transform to the new 5G infrastructure and services, the underlying transport network requires a seamless evolution that protects operator investment now."

He added the organization has begun working with key industry players in order to enable pre-5G networks to be tested against high-performance transport networks and will demonstrate this at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month.

To address these challenges, Infinera has introduced fully open and flexible solutions to extend mobile transport evolution to 5G and Baldry believes the new products launched by Infinera - offer a level of flexibility that none of their competition can compete with. He concluded by saying: "To the best of our knowledge from what we've seen in the market nobody else has this level of flexibility that we can offer."

About the New Open Mobile Transport Solutions launched by Infinera

  • Infinera 5G-ready Mobile Fronthaul Solution 

Adding a new range of flexponders for mobile fronthaul provides mobile operators with deployment flexibility via rack-mounted unit, hardened access unit and hardened clamshell options. Mobile operators also benefit from functional flexibility in which all units are fully reconfigurable to operate as transponders, as muxponders, or in hybrid mode, a level of flexibility that Infinera believes is unique to the industry.

The flexponders enable service flexibility with support for Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and Open Base Station Architecture Initiative (OBSAI)mobile fronthaul protocols and Ethernet in both 4G and 5G environments. The flexponder features are coupled with the high-performance capabilities required for mobile fronthaul, such as low latency, superior synchronization and new fronthaul-specific capabilities including real-time delay compensation that enables better support for RAN in fiber protection scenarios.

  • Infinera Packet-Optical Mobile Backhaul Solution

Infinera's Mobile Backhaul Solution now includes a new EMXP Access Unit that extends Infinera's range of packet-optical transport switches to hardened environments such as street and cell site cabinets. The new unit supports a common software and feature set with the rest of the EMXP range, which includes Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) services, low latency, superior Synchronous Ethernet and 1588v2 synchronization and sophisticated network resilience options. 

  • Infinera Open Architecture

Infinera's Mobile Fronthaul and Backhaul Solutions are designed to be fully open to support SDN control by any orchestrator and offer the ability to transport any radio vendor's equipment. For mobile backhaul, the full range of Infinera's EMXP units now also supports a direct Openflow interface, controlled by Infinera's Xceed Software Suite. This provides a multi-layer SDN control platform and SDN applications.

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