Exploring 5G xHaul

As operators’ transport networks are placing their focus on 5G, they are increasingly looking for high bandwidth and low latency to support 5G services. But what does 5G xHaul stand for and why is it critical to building high performance 5G networks?

What exactly is 5G xHaul?

5G xHaul refers to the transport network that connects 5G radio access networks (RANs) to core networks. Generally speaking, xHaul describes the types of transport networks used to carry traffic from radio access points to core networks. 5G xHaul refers to the high-speed, low-latency networks that are needed to support the bandwidth and latency requirements of 5G networks.

In a typical 5G deployment, the RAN comprises small cells, base stations, and other access points that are connected to each other and to the core network via a transport network. The transport network is responsible for carrying data and traffic control between the RAN and the core network, which provides services like internet connectivity, voice and video calls, and other applications.

5G xHaul determines the overall performance of the network and is therefore critical to 5G network architectures. It’s designed to deliver high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity to support the high-speed data transfer requirements of 5G applications, like augmented reality, virtual reality, and high-definition video streaming.

What are the different types of xHaul?

There are a variety of xHaul networks, including fibre, microwave, and satellite – each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits. For 5G networks, fibre and microwave are the most used types of xHaul.

Fibre xHaul networks use fibre-optic cables to connect 5G base stations to the core network. It is well-suited to support the real-time data transfer requirements of 5G applications. Fibre also has the advantage of being able to support large-scale deployments and can handle high volumes of data traffic.

Microwave xHaul networks, on the other hand, use high-frequency radio waves to transmit data between 5G base stations and the core network. Microwave xHaul networks are ideal for areas where it’s difficult or expensive to lay fibre-optic cables, such as in rural or remote environments so can complement fibre. Microwave xHaul networks can also be deployed quickly and cost-effectively, making them a good option for temporary, complex or emergency deployments.

Typical use cases of xHaul

5G xHaul networks can be used in a variety of important applications, including:

  • Smart cities: 5G xHaul networks can support the deployment of smart city infrastructure, including connected traffic lights, parking systems, and public safety systems.
  • Industrial automation: 5G xHaul networks can enable the deployment of industrial automation systems that use real-time data to optimise manufacturing processes and improve productivity.
  • Healthcare: 5G xHaul networks can support the deployment of remote healthcare services, such as telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.
  • Transportation: 5G xHaul networks can support the deployment of intelligent transportation systems, such as autonomous vehicles and traffic management systems.

The benefits of 5G xHaul

There are a number of reasons why organisations should consider deploying 5G xHaul networks. Firstly, they enable ultra-fast data transfer between 5G base stations and the core network, which is critical for supporting the high-bandwidth requirements of 5G applications. Secondly, they offer low latency, which is essential for real-time applications like virtual reality, augmented reality, and autonomous vehicles. Lastly, 5G xHaul networks are scalable and can be easily upgraded to support increasing bandwidth requirements as the network grows – an aim for every carrier as we move into ubiquitous connectivity.