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May - 2015 - Special issue > CXO View Point

Cloud RAN Small Cells Emerging to Fill Wireless Vacuum

By Sriram Sankaran, VP & Managing Director, Airvana India
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
By Sriram Sankaran, VP & Managing Director, Airvana India
Headquartered in Massachusetts, Airvana is a provider of small cells and femtocells.

Vendors have been promoting macro Cloud RAN, or C-RAN products for several years. But C-RAN is also relevant to small cells, in particular enterprise small cells. In 2014, the Small Cell Forum announced an effort to understand how small cells fit into C-RAN, and the first commercial C-RAN small cell products were announced. These moves signal an important shift in the way indoor wireless coverage is delivered.

What is a C-RAN Small Cell?

C-RAN Small Cells can be broadly defined as having a centralized baseband that is pooled across distributed access points. This provides management and SON benefits compared to a cluster of standalone small cells. However, some C-RAN small cells go beyond this, and support these other key attributes:

  1. Coordination between Radios - While the baseband processing is centralized, some intelligence also must reside in the radios for coordination between multiple radios that serve the same user. This is in contrast to Remote Radio Head or DAS systems that have no such coordination.

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