BT Wholesale picks Adtran to test 5G cloud RAN

BT Group

Adtran has announced that BT Wholesale is leveraging its technology to improve mobile connectivity in urban environments.

The new cloud radio access network (C-RAN) built on Adtran’s passive optical technology provides a simple and cost-effective way to boost mobile service performance in densely populated locations with minimal impact on the urban environment.

In trials with multiple mobile network operators (MNOs) such as EE and Three, the small cell fronthaul network assured by Adtran’s ALM fiber monitoring solution, opens the door to the rapid rollout of C-RAN architectures at scale. The C-RAN pilot scheme is led by BT Wholesale, part of the company’s Business unit.


“Adtran’s technology enables us to offer a managed fronthaul service that significantly improves the coverage and capacity of our customers’ 4G and 5G services. It empowers MNOs to deploy 5G urban small cells at street level that support ultra-fast, highly available connectivity where it’s needed most. And with Adtran’s fiber monitoring platform, proactive maintenance becomes possible, empowering us to offer strict service SLAs and meet our repair obligations. This simplifies the task of managing fiber connectivity to the vast numbers of small cells in lampposts and street kiosks required for national deployment,” said Alex Tempest, managing director for BT Wholesale. “Now in trials with major MNOs, we’ve proven the ability to offer a fronthaul connectivity service with the levels of reliability needed for a new generation of 5G applications.”

Stretching across Leeds city center, the new infrastructure makes Yorkshire the first region in the UK where C-RAN architectures can be deployed in this fast and affordable way. The solution features a managed passive optical fronthaul network built on the Adtran FSP 3000 platform, which can carry current and future fronthaul technologies with the stringent latency and timing requirements of 5G. What’s more, the Adtran ALM provides service management and easy maintenance, enabling BT Wholesale to offer and meet strict customer SLAs. This power-efficient device provides real-time, in-service fiber assurance, letting operators know immediately if and where issues arise.

“The new generation of 5G small cells uses a distributed C-RAN architecture to minimize the equipment deployed at the small cell site and to enable the coordination of small and macro cells to improve performance and capacity. This requires multiple 10Gbit/s wavelengths from each small cell site to the baseband unit. BT Wholesale challenged us to provide a cost-optimized solution for a single fiber wholesale fronthaul service that consumes minimal footprint and power at the cell site. The solution needs to accommodate the increased speed, channel count, and protocol diversity of future disaggregated radio generations,” commented Stuart Broome, GM of EMEA sales at Adtran. “This type of C-RAN deployment points the way to the future of urban mobility and the smart cities of tomorrow.”