Virtual Fronthaul: Dali Wireless unlocks open RAN as networks transition to 5G


Dali Wireless, a specialist in wireless fronthaul innovation for virtual RAN, has launched its second-generation Dali Matrix Virtual Fronthaul Interface (vFI).

The move follows heightened demand for open RAN to become a critical component of 5G networks, solving vendor lock-in issues and lowering network rollout costs. Dali’s vFI makes this a reality and will be trialled by major operators in the US and EMEA later this year.

Dali’s second-generation vFI is built on the company’s core vFI platform which allows any baseband resource to be routed to any remote radio unit (RRU), similar to how IP data packets are routed in the data network.

Dali’s second generation vFI takes this one step further. By adding fronthaul protocol translation to the platform, Dali’s vFI gives operators the flexibility to mix-and-match different fronthaul protocols, vendors, and technologies so that the most appropriate RAN elements can be selected to deliver the board scope of 5G applications in the most cost-effective way.

“While the applications and use cases of 5G are no doubt very exciting, it is important to remember that 5G is yet another network rollout for mobile network operators,” said Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research. “Having the ability to connect any baseband unit to any remote radio unit, regardless of vendor and fronthaul protocol is a very important step to unbundling the RAN and creating the more flexible and open RAN essential for 5G’s success.”

Vendor and protocol agnostic signal routing in the fronthaul is an important step to unbundling the RAN and creating a more flexible open framework needed for 5G. Dali’s vFI supports translation between different protocols including CPRI, eCPRI, RoE, and Ethernet enabling seamless communication between RAN elements provided by different vendors.

An open RAN eliminates vendor lock-in, reduces total cost of ownership, and ultimately futureproofs RAN architecture. Any-to-Any fronthaul connectivity also contributes to sophisticated end-to-end network slicing, and helps operators migrate to 5G networks in a more cost-effective and efficient way while providing maximum investment protection for legacy networks.

“Cost has always been the Achilles heel for any network rollout. At a time when 4G infrastructure expansion continues to grow and 5G hardware is set to drive up CAPEX even further, operators need an open and cost-effective way to manage the requirements of the countless use cases 5G is set to deliver,” said Albert Lee, CEO of Dali Wireless. “An open RAN, eliminates challenges associated with proprietary RAN hardware solutions and helps to create a more competitive and innovative ecosystem. Open RAN enabled by Dali vFI will help mobile operators cost-effectively modernize their networks while protecting the investment in their 2G, 3G and 4G networks.”