Fronthaul-constrained cloud radio access networks: insights and challenges


As a promising paradigm for fifth generation wireless communication systems, cloud radio access networks (C-RANs) are shown to scale back both capital and operating expenditures, furthermore to supply high spectral efficiency (SE) and energy efficiency (EE). The fronthaul in such networks, defined because the transmission link between the baseband unit and therefore the remote radio head, requires a high capacity, however is usually constrained. This article comprehensively surveys recent advances in fronthaul-constrained CRANs, as well as system architectures and key techniques. Significantly, major problems referring to the impact of the constrained fronthaul on SE/EE and quality of service for users, as well as compression and quantization, massive-scale coordinated processing and clustering, and resource allocation optimization, are discussed together with corresponding potential solutions. Open problems in terms of software-outlined networking, network function virtualization, and partial centralization are also identified.

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