5G transport network requirements for the next generation fronthaul interface

J. Bartelt*, N. Vucic, D. Camps-Mur, E. Garcia-Villegas, I. Demirkol, A. Fehske, M. Grieger, A. Tzanakaki, J. Gutiérrez, E. Grass, G. Lyberopoulos, G. Fettweis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
800 Downloads (Pure)


To meet the requirements of 5G mobile networks, several radio access technologies, such as millimeter wave communications and massive MIMO, are being proposed. In addition, cloud radio access network (C-RAN) architectures are considered instrumental to fully exploit the capabilities of future 5G RANs. However, RAN centralization imposes stringent requirements on the transport network, which today are addressed with purpose-specific and expensive fronthaul links. As the demands on future access networks rise, so will the challenges in the fronthaul and backhaul segments. It is hence of fundamental importance to consider the design of transport networks alongside the definition of future access technologies to avoid the transport becoming a bottleneck. Therefore, we analyze in this work the impact that future RAN technologies will have on the transport network and on the design of the next generation fronthaul interface. To understand the especially important impact of varying user traffic, we utilize measurements from a real-world 4G network and, taking target 5G performance figures into account, extrapolate its statistics to a 5G scenario. With this, we derive both per-cell and aggregated data rate requirements for 5G transport networks. In addition, we show that the effect of statistical multiplexing is an important factor to reduce transport network capacity requirements and costs. Based on our investigations, we provide guidelines for the development of the 5G transport network architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89
JournalEURASIP Journal on Wireless Communications and Networking
Issue number1
Early online date15 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • 5G
  • Air interface
  • Backhaul
  • Fronthaul
  • New radio
  • NGFI
  • Radio access network
  • Statistical multiplexing
  • Transport network


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