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Building on the Use of Spatial Multiplexing 5G Networks Infrastructures and Showcasing Advanced technologies and Networking Capabilties

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - blueSPACE (Building on the Use of Spatial Multiplexing 5G Networks Infrastructures and Showcasing Advanced technologies and Networking Capabilties)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2020-11-30

For ICT systems to cope with the rapidly increasing growth of needed data transmission rates there is a need for a flexible, scalable and future-proof solution for seamlessly interfacing the wireless and photonic segments of communication networks. In addition, emerging paradigms such as 5G communications, the internet of things (IoT), car-to-car communications, wireless body and personal area networks (WB/PANs), and high-resolution sensing are expected to push this pressure even further. The requirements demanded by most of these scenarios call for novel technology developments in both the physical layer and the network architectures. For instance, 5G wireless communications targets a 1000-fold increase in capacity, connectivity for over 1 billion users, strict latency control, and network software programming.

BlueSPACE targets a disruptive yet pragmatic approach for the deployment of scalable, reconfigurable and future proof fronthaul solutions for 5G communications, offering unrivalled characteristics that include:

a) Using optical space division multiplexing (SDM) in the form of multi-core fibre for increased bandwidth provisioning and a future proof infrastructure. Ultimately, SDM can naturally enable spatial diversity in the radio-domain by supporting radio frequency beam steering and -forming in the photonic domain or through massive multiple input multiple output transmission starting/ending in the fibre medium,

b) A compact infrastructure that is reconfigurable by means of software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) paradigms, and

c) The possibility of providing full integration with other existing approaches for the implementation of access networks, such as passive optical networks (PONs).

The core concept of blueSPACE is to exploit the added value of optical space division multiplexing (SDM) in the radio access network (RAN) with an efficient optical beamforming interface for wireless transmission in the 24.25 GHz to 27.5 GHz millimetre-wave band for 5G new radio (5G NR), as shown in Figure 1.

The overall objective of blueSPACE is to develop a disruptive yet realistic approach for 5G fronthaul, able to address the high capacity and flexibility requirements imposed by advanced 5G services efficiently and in a scalable and future-proof manner.
blueSPACE consortium achieved the following highlights within the project duration:

A novel network architecture incorporating SDM as reported in deliverable D2.1 [1]. In deliverable D2.2 [2] blueSPACE reported on the physical architecture, system and network requirements to enable those new architectures. Deliverable D2.3 [3] analysed and reported on the compatibility of blueSPACE’s architecture with other 5G solutions and defined interfacing requirements. An important achievement in blueSPACE is the support of both digital and analogue radio-over-fibre (DRoF and ARoF) transport for 5G wireless signals. In deliverable D3.1 [4] we report on the system requirements for the ARoF, DRoF, beamforming, optical distribution network (ODN) implementation and remote power with SDM implementations, while D3.2 [5] reports on DRoF transceivers. An important step in the first period of blueSPACE was the deliverable D4.1 [6] where the preliminary report on central office (CO) and base transmission station (BTS) hardware design for SDM-RAN fronthaul is described.

During the second year D4.2 [7] reported on power distribution to RRUs over SDM infrastructure, D4.3 [8] described the final hardware design of the CO and BTS for SDM-RAN fronthaul and D4.6 [9] reported on the required control and interface to the control plane. To complete the work performed in the first two years, in deliverable D5.1 [10] we report on the extensions to 5G architecture, planning and virtualized network functions for blueSPACE while deliverable D5.2 [11] reports on resource allocation planning algorithms and D5.3 [12] describes the virtual network functions for 5G SDM fronthaul networks. In the final period of the project WP2 rounded up tis activities incorporating comprehensive power consumption analysis, migration and deployment studies reported in D2.5 [13]. Furthermore, WP3 delivered beamformer chips, ARoF transceivers, RF and IF front-ends for up/downlinks, SDM components, and completed the ARoF BBU as documented in D3.7 [14]. WP4 completes successfully completed its works in implementation of the CO an BTS for SDM based RAN as documented in D4.4 [15] that also includes the reported technique developed partly in blueSPACE and measurements for latency in SDM based fronthaul. BlueSPACE completed in its last period its D5.4 reporting on the Unified SDN/NFV platform for network slicing blueSPACE Virtual network functions. Activities on the test-bed and demonstrators were continued in the last period of the project, the planned test-bed functionalities were completed. The corresponding tests of the blueSPACE developed modules and technologies were performed and its insights reported in D6.5 [16]. In the last year, the whole consortium intensified its efforts on the dissemination and exploitation of its achievement as reported in D7.5 [17].
In summary, the technical achievements of blueSPACE contributed mainly to two major 5G KPIs categories: eMBB (Enhanced mobile broadband) and URLLC (Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications). The work pursued in blueSPACE goes beyond-the-state of the art, as it will establish a truly viable and efficient path towards 5G wireless communications with a 1000-fold increase in capacity, connectivity for over 1 billion users, strict latency control and secure, flexible network software programming. The expected impact is related to the realization of the 5G infrastructure required to support important socio-economic use cases such as high-density large-capacity wireless access, low latency online 5G control of robotics, and autonomous driving applications, among others.
Figure 1. blueSPACE proposition.