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Infinera and EBlink Deliver Fronthaul to Orange

Next-Generation mobile architecture combines optical and wireless technologies

Infinera, a maker of InP photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and network equipment, and wireless infrastructure firm EBlink have announced a partnership to deliver both fibre and wireless based solutions and to provide an end-to-end fronthaul architecture.

In a live field trial with Orange, the Infinera TM-Series and EBlink's FrontLink solutions delivered mobile fronthaul networking services for Orange's 4G network in western France, interconnecting baseband units (BBU) and remote radio heads (RRH) from several of Orange's Radio Access Network (RAN) vendors.

In the live field trial, the combined Infinera TM-Series and EBlink FrontLink solution demonstrated on Orange's network how it can deliver end-to-end performance combining fibre and wireless for mobile fronthaul for today's mobile infrastructure and for future advanced 4G and 5G mobile networks.

Where fibre exists, the Infinera TM-Series delivers bandwidth using high capacity wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology. Where there is no fibre, EBlink's wireless fronthaul is complementary to the WDM fronthaul solution, enabling mobile operators to bridge the 'very last mile' which can, in certain locations, be difficult to reach with fibre connections. In the live field trial, the combined solutions worked together seamlessly without disruption in the network.

Mobile fronthaul is a market opportunity that is emerging as mobile operators move to centralised and cloud-based radio access networks (C-RAN) and plan for deployment of high bandwidth 4G, 5G and small cell architectures.

"Mobile fronthaul is a challenging environment with tough requirements on latency and synchronisation for optical solutions," said Sten Nordell, CTO of Infinera's Metro Business Group. "As one of the few suppliers capable of achieving these requirements, we are very pleased to partner with EBlink and Orange to demonstrate that the combination of fibre and wireless is the right alchemy for mobile fronthaul."

"This partnership with Infinera reaffirms the relevance of our wireless fronthaul technologies and how complementary fibre and wireless can be," said Eric Sèle, deputy CEO of EBlink. "The deployment of the Infinera and EBlink solutions on Orange's network underscores the concept that wireless fronthaul picks up where fibre leaves off."

"Combining fibre and wireless is key to a successful mobile fronthaul implementation," said Philippe Chanclou at Orange Labs. "Infinera and EBlink have shown the feasibility of integration of mobile fronthaul with Orange RAN vendors and have demonstrated end-to-end performance, and we are pleased with the trial results," added Sebastien Randazzo, project leader of fronthaul trials at Orange France.

The Infinera TM-Series, enabling mobile fronthaul, allows mobile operators like Orange to deploy WDM-based optical fronthaul in a wide range of network applications. The solution covers a range of options including passive WDM for low cost fibre relief, semi-passive WDM for added management capabilities and active WDM options where additional networking capabilities are required. Infinera's active mobile fronthaul options include transponder and muxponder applications allowing the capability of multiplexing multiple Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and Ethernet services onto the same wavelength.

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