Smart and Flexible RAN: Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) from Saguna enhanced with License Assisted Backhaul (LAB) and Unlicensed Assist (ULA) backhaul from Parallel Wireless

Parallel Wireless, the pioneer in making cellular network deployments and maintenance as easy and cost-effective as enterprise Wi-Fi, and Saguna Networks, a Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) pioneer have teamed up on this reimagined content caching solution.

“Congratulations to all of the nominees for the 2016 Glomo Awards. With more than 930 entries this year – a new record – the competition is greater than ever, reflecting the tremendous diversity and pace of innovation across the mobile world. We are particularly excited to be celebrating the 21st year of the awards with a dynamic new format that will recognise and honour achievement throughout Mobile World Congress.”
Michael O'Hara, CMO, GSMA



The License Assisted Backhaul and Unlicensed Assist technologies on Parallel Wireless CWS have been proven as key enablers in delivering access to remote villages in the UK. They now allow mobile operators to complement the backhaul capacity of their existing macro infrastructure, add resilience with SDN-enabled mesh fabric, and accelerate delivery of mobile content with MEC running as a Virtualized Network Function (VNF) on Parallel Wireless HetNet Gateway (HNG) orchestrator.

To further improve backhaul capacity for the Saguna Open-RAN Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) platform, Parallel Wireless is using its software-defined, multi-mode (3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi), multi-band Converged Wireless System (CWS) base station and HetNet Gateway (HNG) RAN orchestrator (runs on any COTS server). CWS is designed with flexible backhaul (Ethernet, fiber, etc.) capabilities, including full-featured third-generation resilient wireless mesh in the same form factor. Multiple CWS base stations are able to connect to each other via multipoint-to-multipoint connections to form a mesh fabric. HNG orchestrator aggregates all this backhaul capacity and makes it available for MEC and content delivery. This essentially eliminates backhaul bottlenecks, creates a bigger transport pipe, and augments available resources with intelligent SDN policy-controlled dynamic content routing on HNG. HetNet Gateway on the backend helps with this spectrum aggregation and dynamic routing in the case of any node failure. All orchestration, mobility handoffs, routing decisions happen on the orchestrator. That is where data/signaling termination happens as well. Benefit is a combo of silos as it gives additional capacity to the cache with mesh. So, on the downlink, the orchestrator will push routes for certain type of traffic, on the uplink will get profiles from base stations, so both can be decided what traffic to route where and how in the most cost-effective way.

Combining both innovations (MEC from Saguna and License Assisted Backhaul (LAB) and Unlicensed Assist (ULA) backhaul capabilities from Parallel Wireless) allows mobile operators to minimize transport expenses and accelerate mobile content delivery across HetNets.

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) improves user experience in mobile networks by bringing content and applications closer to the end user. License Assisted Backhaul (LAB) and Unlicensed Assist (ULA) backhaul capabilities from Parallel Wireless provide additional transport capacity and remove backhaul congestion to run those applications more efficient and faster.

As Parallel Wireless CWS base station has flexible backhaul including multi-point-to-multi-point mesh, each base station can add up to 450 mbps of “free” backhaul in backhaul challenged environments, so no additional fixed backhaul infrastructure investments (about US $ 11,000 for new fiber cable to bring up to a site) are required. The reason it is “free” is because CWS will use unlicensed or licensed spectrum that is not being used for access, essentially creating free capacity – based on policies and priorities, traffic can be offloaded to that spectrum to provide customer QoS and reduce churn.

CWS can be also augmented to an existing macro deployment to provide “free” backhaul – when CWS only provides backhaul as an overlay to existing macros. By providing “free” backhaul over unlicensed spectrum, this adds more capacity at a very low cost (CWS nodes are built from commodity components, take low skill labor and under 2 hours to install). SDN-enabled mesh routing can enable resilience against fiber cuts or copper theft (cost operators millions) or other failure scenarios — in this scenario, CWS will provide alternative backhaul.

Traditionally, fiber capacity (or Ethernet capacity) has to be shared between nodes taking backhaul from a fiber hub. So, if a cluster had four nodes, the capacity of 150 at the hub will have to be split four ways, giving less than 40 mbps each. It is even worse with macros as each sector will take its share and this will affect end user experience. As users gobble down more wireless data, operators are trying to keep up with this trend by installing small cells and/or MEC content caching solutions. But most of those solutions are limited by the backhaul capacity of the network. As a result of the combined additional backhaul capacity available in either of these modes and the Edge-based content delivery and acceleration, end users benefit from increased data speeds, reduced latency, and faster content delivery. And operators can use their existing infrastructure to deliver those services.

The smart and flexible RAN architecture created by combining MEC and License Assisted Backhaul/Unlicensed Assist (ULA) offers highly efficient content delivery & scalability to mobile operators.

CWS backhaul capabilities eliminate backhaul bottleneck as CWS creates more backhaul making the transport pipe bigger. In traditional MEC solutions you have to work with what you got for backhaul. As CWS base station has flexible backhaul including multi-point-to-multi-point mesh, each base station can add up to 450 mbps of “free” backhaul.

CWS base station design where access and backhaul capabilities are combined in the same form factor delivers multi-mode access + backhaul & improves backhaul conditions for better content delivery. Simply adding 2 mesh cards in the same CWS unit improves the mesh quality as base stations each base station can talk to its neighbors on 2 different channels.

This non-ideal backhaul condition can be improved via two modes: License Assisted Backhaul (LAB) technology and Unlicensed Assist (ULA) technology. License Assisted Backhaul (LAB) technology performs similarly to License Assisted Access (LAA) by aggregating LTE and unlicensed spectrum for backhaul and making decisions as to what spectrum to use to deliver guaranteed Quality of Service for different types of applications (VoLTE, mobile video, etc.) on HetNet Gateway. In this mode, HNG might instruct a base station to offload video traffic over unlicensed spectrum while giving other types of traffic priority on the licensed spectrum.

A base station enabling Unlicensed Assist backhaul works on unlicensed spectrum and complements existing wired backhaul for macros with additional backhaul capacity, while enabling resilience in a case of fixed backhaul failure.

As this breakthrough joint solution not only solves latency and backhaul bottleneck, but provides content acceleration with the benefits from improved backhaul capacity, it is applicable to many deployment scenarios from developed to developing markets and public safety. The main benefit is to create “free” bandwidth for offloading where it is cost-prohibitive or logistically difficult to install more fiber or fixed backhaul. In developed markets, the joint solution will help mobile operators to keep their customers happy with consistent user experience. Or by retrofitting an existing network, it will add new level of resilience. In developing/emerging markets, it will allow mobile operators to bring wireless at an affordable price point to previously unconnected people, so they can enjoy watching videos and accessing the web. With Public Safety and Military moving to LTE and, this will make their networks “public safety grade”.

Read more from SDX Central about this award-nominated solution!