What Can You Gain from Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway (DCSG)?

Cell Site Gateway (CSG)

Routers have played a part in mobile networks as early as the transition to 3G and have become more central in 4G. But while IP-based traffic has been an integral part of core and backhaul aggregation sites, many cell sites have continued to rely on layer-2 (L2) switching.

 

However, 5G use cases can no longer rely solely on L2 switches at the cell site level. Many of 5G’s advanced services, high capacities and low latencies rely on end-to-end layer-3 (L3) routing for more efficient traffic handling and more resilient networks.

 

For years, cell site routers (CSRs), also known as cell site gateways (CSGs), have been offered as monolithic solutions by a few large vendors. These closed systems combine propriety hardware and software that lock customers into the vendors’ ecosystems. Such solutions have been difficult to scale, and the relative lack of competition have kept costs high and slowed innovation.

 

With the arrival of 5G, disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs) have emerged as an attractive alternative to this closed approach.

DCSG Defined

Disaggregated routing is an open architecture that decouples the hardware and software elements of CSGs/CSRs.

 

The Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) Project Group of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) has defined a DCSG as an open white-box cell site gateway device for existing 4G and emerging 5G mobile infrastructures. As a cell site gateway, a DCSG supports L2, L3 and MPLS features with native time synchronization protocols.

 

Put simply, DSCGs decouple the physical device from the network operating system (NOS) and applications that run on it. Vendors are free to create and innovate using non-proprietary open standards that allow easy interoperability between compliant hardware and software.


which also provide multi-Gbps capacity, are used in the “highways” of the telecommunication backbone network. These links are used to carry services at distances of 10 to 100 miles, and, using the right planning, configuration and equipment, can also bridge distances of over 150 miles.

Closed CSG vs. Open DCSG

Closed CSG vs_Open DCSG

By deploying best-of-breed DCSGs that fit their dynamic needs, operators are reducing their costs and scaling their networks to support the growing demand for 5G-based services. DCSGs enable 5G service providers to avoid vendor lock-in and select among more hardware and software choices for varying deployment scenarios.

 

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How Radio-Aware DCSGs Help Optimize 5G Networks

DCSG Market

DCSGs are growing in importance along with the worldwide expansion and densification of 5G networks, which require more capacity while offering more services. This means operators need to deploy ever more sites, gateways and radios, which, in turn, provides a real incentive for operators to deploy cost-effective white-box DCSG solutions.

 

According to global research firm Omdia, DCSGs already accounted for around 10% of all new CSGs in 2021, and they are expected to grow rapidly to some 25% of new CSGs in 2024.

 

DCSGs to Account for 25% of Market in 2024Omedia_info

According to market research firm Dell’Oro Group, disaggregated routers have “become a real thing” in the service provider router market. The market for disaggregated routers grew significantly in 2021, and its ecosystem continued to expand across hardware, software and integration elements. According to another recent report from Dell’Oro, the demand for small cells remains strong, with preliminary findings suggesting that small cell radio access network (RAN) revenues advanced 15 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2022.

Market Drivers

Network operators are facing several key challenges that drive the market for DCSGs.


  • Upgrading existing cell site infrastructure

    5G use cases can no longer rely solely on low-cost layer-2 switches, which do not support end-to-end network slicing or consistent service monitoring and quality of service (Qos) across the network. Since 5G services require high-capacity backhaul traffic, low latencies and 10Gbps interfaces, operators need to upgrade their existing gateways.

 

  • Deploying many more cell sites at a fast pace


    To support the high capacities, low latencies, and higher frequency bands of 5G, mobile operators must densify their networks and deploy many more small cells and radio towers at a very fast pace.

 

  • Introducing advanced Overcoming limited flexibility when choosing among few vendors


    With the increase in 5G rollouts, operators need more flexibility than before as they must support a growing number of network architectures and site sizes. Increased competition among growing numbers of DCSG hardware and software vendors reduces the risk of working with smaller vendors, whose offerings can be replaced easily by other open solutions supporting the latest protocols.



 

  • Eliminating hidden costs of CSGs


    The quoted prices of monolithic CSRs usually relate to basic configurations, and often do not include many features and capabilities. In cases when operators need to use additional ports, increase capacity, or support more protocols, they typically need to pay extra fees.



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Ceragon's IP-50FX DCSG Solution

DCSG Elements



As mentioned above, disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs) have emerged as an attractive alternative to closed CSGs/CSRs. Disaggregated routing is an open architecture that decouples the hardware and software elements of previously monolithic CSGs/CSRs.

 

 


Main DCSG Components

Open DCSG_wh


DCSGs are made up of two main components:

 


  • Open White-box hardware

    The innovative DCSG approach has been fueled, among other things, by the emergence of carrier-grade Ethernet switching processors by several chip vendors. As a result, multiple vendors are building white-box hardware platforms as a basis for DCSGs with integrated NOS software.

  • Network operating system (NOS) software:

    A network operating system is a specialized operating system for network devices such as routers or switches. DCSGs integrate open, best-of-breed NOS solutions that implement advanced networking protocols. 

 

RADIO-AWARE DCSG

The Ceragon IP-50FX is the industry’s first radio-aware DCSG. This solution cost-effectively combines two key functions – an open cell site gateway/router (CSG/CSR) and a radio indoor unit (IDU) – in one white-box hardware device. Now available in the market, the IP-50FX enables service providers to drive down costs and ramp up flexibility in their transport network.

The IP-50FX is comprised of three main components:

  • Open DCSG hardware
  • Best-in-class network operating system (NOS) software
  • Ceragon’s Radio-Aware Open Networking (RAON) software

 

IP-50FX Components_Diagram

 

Open hardware platform

The IP-50FX can be implemented on multiple TIP-compliant DCSG hardware boxes. This gives operators the flexibility to choose the hardware that meets their port-density, site capacity and cost requirements. Ceragon’s cost-effective hardware boxes include a single license for all ports and features, and type C synchronization required by 5G.

 

Ceragon IP-50FX Open Hardware

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OcNOS Software

The IP-50FX comes equipped with OcNOS, a carrier-grade NOS developed by IP Infusion, a leading provider of network disaggregation solutions. OcNOS is a highly modular and scalable NOS, including containers for third-party applications. Its L3 routing software supports segment routing, which enables efficient network slicing required by 5G networks. OcNOS is integrated with Ceragon’s hardware platform and RAON software to provide a robust integrated solution with radio-aware flow control, timing and synchronization, and centralized management (CLI/SNMP/NETCONF/OpenConfig).

RAON Software

Ceragon’s Radio-Aware Open Networking (RAON) software transforms the IP-50FX into a “2-in-1” DCSG. In essence, RAON enables operators to automatically discover and centrally manage all radios connected to the DCSG through a single IP address, translating into easier configuration and monitoring of an entire radio cluster. RAON informs the cell site router of any changes in connected radios, allowing smart decisions such as traffic rerouting for optimal use of valuable radio resources. An additional important capability is L1 link bonding, which enables efficient combining of multiple interfaces into a single group link. Fully supporting the disaggregated model, RAON can be integrated with any NOS or white-box gateway.

 

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DCSG
Strategic Prospective

 

Selected Use Cases

USE CASE A // upgrade of all-outdoor radios and CSR

In this use case, a 5G mobile operator has decided to split its all-outdoor unit (AODU) radio architecture from its networking architecture. Deploying AODUs from vendor A, the operator wants to upgrade its existing CSRs using DCSG solutions from vendor B.

The 5G operator needs to add capacity to its radio infrastructure by using new AODUs with higher throughput or by adding new radios in parallel to existing ones. At the same time, the operator needs to upgrade its CSRs to support higher capacity and more high-speed interfaces to handle its new radios.

 

USE CASE A

Operator challenges include:

  • Complex management of many outdoor units with separate IP addresses
  • Management of traffic distribution between the radios
  • Costly replacement of the CSGs/CSRs, especially if “locked” to an existing monolithic vendor
  • The need to implement new advanced protocols like SR, TI-LFA, SRv6



USE CASE B // Expansion of split-mount radios and networking enhancement

In this use case, a 5G mobile operator deploying split-mount radios faces the need to add capacity by adding additional AO radio frequency units (RFUs) or millimeter wave (mmW) units. The operator wants to enhance its networking from simple L2 switching to sophisticated segment routing or IP/MPLS routing with new interfaces.

The operator is interested in meeting all its needs from a single wireless vendor that does not specialize in networking, forcing the operator to add additional CSRs to its split-mount sites.

USE CASE B

Operator challenges include:

  • Complex management of many split-mount units with separate IP addresses
  • Upgrade of many sites to higher rates while minimizing total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • The need to support higher rate interfaces, multiband between millimeter wave (all-outdoor) and microwave (RFUs), and advanced routing protocols

 

USE CASE C // Transport-agnostic routing for 5G mobile operator

In this use case, a mobile operator is planning to modernize (brownfield) or deploy (greenfield) its CSGs/CSRs as part of 5G rollout plans. Transport is agnostic (either fiber-optic or radio).

DCSG requirements and selection are the responsibility of the network/IP engineering department (and not the microwave backhaul group).

USE CASE C-1

Operator challenges include:

  • Old existing CSGs/CSRs (in case of brownfield deployment) with up to only 1GE interfaces
  • Insufficient switching capacity and/or ports to support multiple radio technologies
  • Current CSGs/CSRs lacking segment routing and 5G sync requirements
  • No SDN support
  • Expensive and non-flexible incumbent vendor solutions

 

USE CASE D // Broadband access/edge routing

In this use case, a service provider (wireline and/or wireless) plans to modernize or deploy broadband/edge routers as part of its gigabit network infrastructure in support of business/residential customers.

DCSG requirements and selection are the responsibility of the network/IP engineering department (and not the microwave group).

USE CASE D-1

Operator challenges include:

  • Old existing CSGs/CSRs with up to only 1GE interfaces
  • Insufficient switching capacity and/or ports to support multiple access technologies
  • Current CSGs/CSRs lacking latest routing protocols
  • No SDN support
  • Expensive and non-flexible incumbent vendor solutions
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TIP Compliance

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a global community of companies and organizations working together to accelerate the development and deployment of open, disaggregated, and standards-based technology solutions. As mentioned above, TIP’s Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) Project Group has defined a DCSG as an open white-box cell site gateway device for existing 4G and emerging 5G mobile infrastructures.

 

Ceragon’s IP-50FX has been awarded TIP’s Requirements Compliant ribbon for hardware and software, and is listed on the TIP Exchange Marketplace.

Operator Benefits


Combining two vital cell site functions – a cell site router (CSR) and a radio indoor unit (IDU) – into a single cost-effective product, the IP-50FX delivers value-added benefits to network operators and service providers:

PLUS2

FASTER INNOVATION

The open disaggregated architecture ensures that mobile operators can deploy best-of-breed hardware and software elements to fit their dynamic needs, while evolving their cell sites to support new features and capabilities.

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RAPID TIME TO MARKET (TTM)

The open IP-50FX solution can be deployed rapidly and smoothly, empowering faster time to market of new technologies and services.

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REDUCED COSTS

As 5G mobile operators must rapidly densify their transport networks with new sites and links, the IP-50FX breaks the dependency on proprietary and expensive monolithic products, enabling more flexibility and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

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FULL RADIO VISIBILITY

The virtual indoor unit automatically discovers and provides full visibility of the radio outdoor units (ODUs) via a single point of access and a single IP address.

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TIP COMPLIANCE

The IP-50FX has been evaluated and approved by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), ensuring it meets TIP standards for DCSGs as part of open and disaggregated transport networks.

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FLEXIBLE HARDWARE

Several hardware platforms are available to choose from, offering different capacities, port densities and capabilities, while a single license is used to activate all L2/L3 features and ports.

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OPTIMAL 5G SERVICE

Leveraging its best-in-class NOS that supports new and sophisticated protocols, the IP-50FX provides segment routing to support 5G network slicing, an essential element in providing optimal service for various 5G use cases and applications.

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