Cellular access multi-tenancy through small-cell virtualization and common RF front-end sharing

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Mobile traffic demand is expected to grow as much as eight-fold in the coming next five years, putting strain in current wireless infrastructures. Meanwhile the diversity of traffic and standards may explode as well. One of the most common means for matching these mounting requirements is through network densification, essentially increasing the density of deployment of operators’ base stations in many small cells and handling timing critical traffic at the edge. In this paper we take a step in that direction by implementing a virtualized small cell base station consisting of multiple, isolated LTE PHY stacks running concurrently on top of a hypervisor deployed on a cheap, off-the-shelf x86 server and a shared radio head. In particular, we show that it is possible to run multiple virtualized base stations while achieving throughput equal or close to the theoretical maximum. In contrast to C-RAN (Cloud/Centralized Radio Access Network), our virtualized small cell base station has full stack at the edge so that a low latency high throughput front-haul, which is necessary in C-RAN architecture, is not needed. This approach brings all the flexibility and configurability (from network management point of view) that a software based implementation provides while the transparent architecture enables the possibility of multiple standards sharing the same radio infrastructure.
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Mendes, J., Jiao, X., García-Saavedra, A., Huici, F. y Moerman, I. (2019). Cellular access multitenancy through small-cell virtualization and common RF front-end sharing. Computer Communications, 133, January, pp. 59-66