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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We live in a connected world. This may sound like a trite statement at first glance, but like many coinages of this kind it has entered our collective vocabulary by moving straight from provocative insight to cliché to mainstream reality. And as I am headed to the Mobile Word Congress in Barcelona, the  largest gathering of the wireless industry (50,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors), I’m probably not the only one noticing the unique historical backdrop that underlies the event this year and gives ever more credence to the seismic economic, cultural, social, and political shifts triggered by the universal power of connectivity. The Mobile World Congress, perhaps, would be more aptly dubbed World Congress in order to describe the far-flung implications of communication technology, much of which is now mobile.

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