Exploring High-Bandwidth, Low-Latency Fronthaul Solutions in the Industry


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Exploring High-Bandwidth, Low-Latency Fronthaul Solutions in the Industry

In the rapidly evolving world of telecommunications, meeting the demands for high-bandwidth and low-latency connectivity is essential. Fronthaul solutions play a crucial role in ensuring seamless communication between AAUs (Antenna Units) and DUs (Distribution Units). Let’s delve into some of the leading fronthaul solutions available in the industry today.

Dark Fiber

Dark fiber is a popular point-to-point (P2P) fiber transmission solution that uses bidirectional optical modules. It enables data transmission between AAUs and DUs without the need for additional devices or extra power consumption. However, it lacks protection and monitoring capabilities, and its reliance on a large number of fiber resources can be a drawback.

Active WDM

Active WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) offers a more sophisticated approach by deploying WDM devices at AAU sites and DU equipment rooms. With this solution, multiple AAUs can share one optical fiber, and OTN (Optical Transport Network) encapsulation, management, and protection mechanisms are introduced. Active WDM supports various topologies and provides high reliability, low cost, and easy operation and maintenance (O&M). However, considerations must be given to power supply sharing between active WDM devices and AAUs.

Passive WDM

In passive WDM, colored-light modules are directly deployed on AAUs and DUs. This solution allows multiple AAUs to share one fiber, eliminating the need for independent power supplies. Passive WDM systems come in two variants:

  1. Passive CWDM (Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing): Ideal for transmission within 5 km, the 25G CWDM module works well but has dispersion penalties near 1371 nm.
  2. Passive DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing): Equipped with the electro-absorption modulated laser (EML), the 25G DWDM module offers excellent performance and can achieve transmission distances of up to 10 km.

However, the industry chain maturity varies significantly between CWDM and DWDM, with DWDM boasting mature and reliable components.

Semi-Active WDM

Semi-active WDM strikes a balance by deploying passive colored optical modules and multiplexer/demultiplexer units on the AAU side, and active WDM devices on the DU side. This solution allows one optical fiber to support access to six 25G eCPRI services without requiring a power supply at the remote end. Semi-active WDM optimizes fiber resources, supports automatic service provisioning and protection switching, provides visibility into optical fiber quality, and enables accurate performance monitoring.

In conclusion, the telecommunications industry offers a range of high-bandwidth, low-latency fronthaul solutions to meet the evolving demands of today’s networks. Whether it’s dark fiber for simple point-to-point connections, active WDM for robust reliability, passive WDM for power-saving solutions, or semi-active WDM for a balanced approach, each solution comes with its unique set of advantages and considerations. Choose the fronthaul solution that best aligns with your network’s requirements and future growth prospects.

Keywords: fronthaul solutions, high-bandwidth, low-latency, dark fiber, active WDM, passive WDM, semi-active WDM, P2P fiber transmission, OTN encapsulation, optical fiber quality, 25G CWDM, 25G DWDM, industry chain maturity.

Solution Comparison

Dark fiberNo extra transmission device or power supply requiredLack of protection capabilities; massive fiber resources required; no supervisory capability
Passive WDMCost-effective for low CPRI ratesOnly 8 or 16 wavelengths supported in the CWDM system, reducing scalability; no OAM feature, hampering fault locating; mature product chain of CWDM optical modules with high-rate CPRI 5G/10G and other interfaces, leading to high costs; lack of protection capabilities; potential compatibility issues of third-party colored modules with radio networks; complicated configurations
Active WDMHigh-quality OAM management, ring protection capability, and high reliability; scalable; low costsIndependent power supply required; extra device deployment
Semi-active WDMNo need for remote power supply; high reliability; high-quality OAM managementN/A