Cloud RAN or Centralized RAN is one of the building elements of the radio network evolution towards 5G. The OpenEPC team has extensive expertise with radio protocols since as part of OpenEPC it has been providing radio and UE emulators.
C-RAN splits the eNodeB in two elements: the RRH and the BBU. The RRH is the Remote Radio Head and includes hardware and software elements. The BBU is the BaseBand Unit and can be implemented only in software. Typically C-RAN providers provide an NFV vBBU. The split between RRH and BBU is not standardized but standard bodies like 3GPP consider different options. Current preference are for two splits: a higher split in PDCP/RLC layers and a lower split in MAC layer. The higher split permits that in the interface between BBU and RRH the transport requirements are very relaxed (similar to backhaul) allowing for large distances between RRH and BBU. The lower split does have stringent requirements for transport networks regarding latency and requires a higher throughput but it permits to make use of some radio optimizations in the BBU.
OpenEPC has implemented prototypes of its eNodeB emulators with both a high split and a lower split practically permitting the R&D customers to experiment with the C-RAN technologies selected by 3GPP.
You can read more about the higher level split that OpenEPC did as part of the 5G-CrossHaul project here and access a video of a demonstration conducted together with InterDigital and Fraunhofer HHI using the OpenEPC C-RAN prototypes.
The C-RAN prototypes are licensed separately from OpenEPC, as not all customers require them, as an add-on. Please contact us for more details.