From the time of its conceptualization, Long Term Evolution (LTE) has been positioned as a distributed and flat architecture whose strength lies in its simplicity. However, it wasn’t long before tech titans started acknowledging the benefits, perhaps even the need, for centralization in the LTE stack even if it violated the initial premise. This is where Cloud RAN, also referred to as C-RAN or Centralized RAN, brings value to the table. Wikipedia defines C-RAN as “[A] centralized, cloud-based architecture for radio access networks that supports 2G, 3G, 4G and future wireless communication standards”. C-RAN comprises centralized baseband units (BBU) and distributed remote radio heads (RRH) connected through high-capacity, low-latency links. Put more succinctly, the C-RAN architecture involves splitting the baseband processing between RRH and BBU functions, preferably running the latter on commodity servers in a virtualized environment with the intent of optimizing cost while offering easily-scalable solutions.

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