FluidRAN: Optimal VRAN/MEC Orchestration

Andres Garciasaavedra NEC Labs Europe, Germany
Xavier Costaperez NEC Laboratories Europe, Germany
Douglas Leith Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
George Iosifidis Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) architec-tures constitute a promising solution for the densification needs of 5G networks, as they decouple Base Stations (BUs) functions from Radio Units (RUs) allowing the processing power to be pooled at cost-efficient Central Units (CUs). vRAN facilitates the flexible function relocation (split selection), and therefore enables splits with less stringent network requirements compared to state-of-the-art fully Centralized (C-RAN) systems. In this paper, we study the important and challenging vRAN design problem. We propose a novel modeling approach and a rigorous analytical framework, FluidRAN, that minimizes RAN costs by jointly selecting the splits and the RUs-CUs routing paths. We also consider the increasingly relevant scenario where the RAN needs to support multi-access edge computing (MEC) services, that naturally favor distributed RAN (D-RAN) architectures. Our framework provides a joint vRAN/MEC solution that minimizes operational costs while satisfying the MEC needs. We follow a data-driven evaluation method, using topologies of 3 operational networks. Our results reveal that (i) pure C-RAN is rarely a feasible upgrade solution for existing infrastructure, (ii) FluidRAN achieves significant cost savings compared to D-RAN systems, and (iii) MEC can increase substantially the operator's cost as it pushes vRAN function placement back to RUs.

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