Partnering on transport with Juniper Networks, ECI Telecom

5G requires operators to make significant investment in new radio equipment and network densification, core network enhancements and capacity increases in the transport networks that carry mobile data traffic. Ahead of Mobile World Congress Americas next week, Ericsson announced a revamp of its transport portfolio, which includes routers, microwave equipment and fronthaul solutions.

Ericsson went outside the company to lend additional functionality to its transport products via partnerships with Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom. Juniper edge, core and security technology was added to Ericsson’s router family. ECI Telecom will help the Swedish vendor “deliver newly-enhanced optical transport solutions for service providers, as well as critical infrastructure customers,” according to Ericsson.

IHS Markit Senior Research Director Heidi Adam said transport is “critical” to 5G success. “By complementing its microwave transport and IP backhaul solutions with optical transport, edge, core and security platforms from its partners, Ericsson will be well positioned to offered end-to-end, integrated mobile transport solutions aligned with the needs of new 5G radio and mobile core networks.

An important piece of the evolving transport puzzle is fronthaul, the connection between a baseband and radio. Small cells will be key to delivering 5G capacity levels. Operators are increasingly centralizing baseband resources and using fronthaul to connect a cluster of radios. This can simplify deployment by decreasing equipment footprint and improve network efficiency by allowing for centralized management of resources.

For example, Orange Poland is continuing with its 5G strategy by working with Nokia to test out a cloud-based radio access network. The cloud RAN trial, which ran from March to May, saw radio sites fed by a virtualized baseband deployed in a data center 70 kilometers away; Ethernet fronthaul served as the transport mechanism.

For Ericsson’s part, EVP and Head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling said the company’s combination of radio, network architecture, applications and standardization knowledge “put[s]us in an excellent position to understand the requirements 5G places on transport.” Through the partnerships with Juniper and ECI, “We will boost our transport offering and create the critical building blocks of next-generation transport networks that benefit our customers.”


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