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Radio over Fiber Technology for Wireless Access

Radio over Fiber Technology for Wireless Access

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Radio over Fiber Technology for Wireless Access
GSDC CroatiaEricsson Nikola Tesla d.d.
Krapinska 45, HR-10001 Zagreb
Abstract -
Radio over Fiber technology (RoF), an integrationof wireless and fiber optic networks, is an essential technologyfor the provision of untethered access to broadband wirelesscommunications in a range of applications including last milesolutions, extension of existing radio coverage and capacity,and backhaul. The well known advantages of optical fiber as atransmission medium such as low loss, light weight, largebandwidth characteristics, small size and low cable cost makeit the ideal and most flexible solution for efficientlytransporting radio signals to remotely located antenna sites ina wireless network. In addition to its transmission properties,the insensitivity of fiber optic cables to electromagneticradiation is a key benefit in their implementation as thebackbone of a wireless network.The traditional link between the radio base station (RBS) andthe antenna has previously been a copper coaxial cable. To usean optical fiber cable instead, makes both design of new sites,as well as the physical deployment of the hardware, mucheasier.
Optical wireless networking connectivity can typicallybe achieved using radiofrequency (RF) or optical wirelessapproaches at the physical level. The RF spectrum iscongested, and the provision of broadband services in newbands is increasingly more difficult. Optical wirelessnetworking offers a vast unregulated bandwidth that can beexploited by mobile terminals within an indoorenvironment to set up high speed multimedia services.Optical signal transmission and detection offers immunityfrom fading and security at the physical level where theoptical signal is typically contained within the indoorcommunication environment. The same communicationequipment and wavelengths can be reused in other parts of a building, thus offering wavelength diversity. The opticalmedium is, however, far from ideal. Diffuse opticalwireless networking systems offer user mobility and arerobust in the presence of shadowing, but they can besignificantly impaired by multipath propagation, whichresults in pulse dispersion and inter symbol interference.Fiber optic LANs will be carrying traffic at data rates of tens of gigabits per second in the near future, whereas datarates of tens of megabits per second are difficult to provideto mobile users. In this regime, optical channels, offeringterahertz of bandwidth, have many advantages.
First RoF systems were mainly used to transportmicrowave signals, and to achieve mobility functions in thecentral office or exchange (CO). That is, modulatedmicrowave signals had to be available at the input end of the RoF system, which
subsequently transported them overa distance to the RS (Remote Site) in the form of opticalsignals. At the RS the microwave signals are regeneratedand radiated by antennas. The system was used to distributeGSM 900 network traffic. The added value in using such asystem lay in the capability to dynamically allocatecapacity based on traffic demands.
Figure 1. Basic ROF architecture
Today RoF systems, are designed to perform addedradio system functionalities besides transportation andmobility functions. These functions include datamodulation, signal processing, and frequency conversion(up and down). For a multifunctional RoF system, therequired radio signal at the input of the RoF systemdepends on the RoF technology and the functionalitydesired. Figure 1. shows a typical RF signal (modulated byanalog or digital modulation techniques) being transportedby an analog fiber optic link. The RF signal may bebaseband data, modulated IF, or the actual modulated RFsignal to be distributed. The RF signal is used to modulatethe optical source in transmitter. The resulting opticalsignal is launched into an optical fiber. At the other end of the fiber, we need an optical receiver that converts theoptical signal to RF again. The generated electrical signalmust meet the specifications required by the wirelessapplication be it GSM, UMTS, wireless LAN, WiMax orother.
By delivering the radio signals directly, theoptical fiber link avoids the
necessity to generate highfrequency radio carriers at the antenna site. Since antenna
sites are usually remote from easy access, there is a lotto gain from such an
arrangement. Usually a single fibercan carry information in one direction only (simplex)which means that we usually require two fibers for bi-directional (duplex) communication. However, recentprogress in wavelength division multiplexing make itpossible to use the same fiber for duplex communicationusing different wavelengths. WDM can be use to combineseveral wavelengths together to send them through a fiber
optic network, greatly increasing the use of theavailable fiber bandwidth and maximizing total datathroughput that in order to meet future wireless bandwidthrequirements.
Figure 2. The integration of optical fiber and wireless networks
Figure 2. shows that the CO provides the interfacebetween an external network (typically a Metropolitan AreaNetwork (MAN) or Local Area Network (LAN)) and awireless network in which multiple
BSs provide wirelesscoverage to Mobile Units (MUs). A fiber radio network differs from a traditional fiber to the home (FTTH) accessnetwork in that the transported data is at a wirelessfrequency.The paper is organized as follows. Section II describes theproposed network architecture, then III section demonstratesbasic configuration of radio link. Section IV deals withintroduction of WDM technology in wireless networks.
etwork architecture
RoF network architectures vary according to the plannedservice application. The basically RoF system consists of aCentral Office (CO) and a Remote Site (RS) connected byan optical fiber link or network.
If the application area is ina GSM network, then the CO could be the
MobileSwitching Centre (MSC) and the RS the base station (BS).For Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), the COwould be the head end while the Radio Access Point (RAP)would act as the RS.For example, the dominant market for ROF technologytoday is the distribution of radio signals over fiber toextend the range and capacity of radio systems indoors; socalled fiber Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), figure 3.At moment fiber based DAS installations are beingincreasingly used in a variety of locations including publicbuildings, airports, stadiums and subways. In these inbuilding wireless systems a Base Station includes thecentralized equipment where the radio signals areconverted to optical signals, which are
then transmitted viaoptical fiber to specific Remote Node (RN) locations. Thenat each RN, the optical signal is converted back into the RFdomain, which is then directed to an antenna for wirelesscoverage.
Mainly all other applications of RoF technology can usearchitecture shown in Figure 4. Current wireless network architectures are often characterized by centralizedswitching nodes that are interconnected to geographicallydistributed BSs via microwave links. In future broadbandpico cellular network architectures, due to the largecapacity and large number of BSs, radio networks may bedimensioned in such a way that there will be a number of clusters of BSs serviced by a switching node.
Figure 3. .ROF solution for DAS architecture
For a large metropolitan area, a number of suchswitching nodes will be required to interconnected via anoptical MAN ring architecture, as shown in Figure 4
Figure 4. Architecture of ROF with an optical WDM MAN
In the ROF architecture shown in Figure 4. , WDMchannels could be dropped or added into the optical WDMMAN via the switching center. As depicted in this diagram,CO1 is connected to several remote nodes via an opticalring while the second central office (CO2) feeds its RNsvia a star tree arrangement. In either arrangement
individual wavelengths would be demultiplexed from theWDM signal by being dropped from the optical WDMMAN via the remote nodes, which direct the optical signalsto the remote antenna BSs for signal detection and radiodistribution. In the upstream direction, radio signalsgenerated at the customer site are upconverted in frequencyand radiated to the BS where an electrical to opticalconversion process takes place before the radio signals aredirected to the CO for further processing.
oF link configurations
We have several possible approaches to transportingradio signals over optical fiber in RoF systems, which isclassified based on the kinds of frequency bands (RFbands, IF baseband (BB)) transmitted over an optical fiberlink. The three fundamental techniques as shown in Figure5. RoF analog photonic links are typically multichannel innature and require high power compared to digital schemesbecause of the increased carrier to noise ratio (CNR)requirements. The performance, including CNR andcapacity, of RoF systems employing analog optical links islimited by the noise of the various optical and electricalcomponents in the link as well as by device nonlinearities,which introduce intermodulation and distortion productsthat create interference with other radio channels [1].
Figure 5. Radio signal transport schemes for RoF systems
Momentarily Rof is probably the most straightforwardradio signal distribution technology because the wirelesssignals are transported directly over the fiber at the radiocarrier transmission frequency without the need for anysubsequent frequency up or down conversion at the remoteantenna BSs. The key optical and RF devices required atthe CO and the BS for downstream signal transmission inan RoF system based on RF over fiber is shown in figure 6.This configuration enables centralized control andremote monitoring of the radio signal distribution via thefiber backbone network and reduces the complexity of theBS implementation, but is susceptible to fiber chromaticdispersion that seriously limits the transmission distance[2]. The wireless data obtained from the trunk network aremodulated onto a number of lower intermediate frequency(IF) carriers, which are then combined to form a subcarriermultiplexed (SCM) signal.
Figure 6. Downstream signal transmission via RF over fiber
This SCM signal is up converted to the radiotransmission frequency using a local oscillator (LO) sourcelocated at the CO and then modulated onto an opticalcarrier. At the remote BS, the analog optical signal isdetected, amplified, filtered, and directed to an antenna forfree space transmission. Upstream radio transmission to theBS and subsequently back to the CO will require amechanism for modulating an optical source located at theBS at the radio carrier frequency, and photo detection of this signal back at the CO.Figure 7. shows a scheme of the basic hardware requiredfor downstream signal transmission in an RoF system basedon the distribution of the radio signal at a lower IF, the socalled ‘‘IF over fiber’’. IF signal transport schemes offerthe advantage that the readily available mature microwavehardware can be utilized at the BS, although therequirement for frequency conversion at the BS increasesthe complexity of the BS architecture particularly as thefrequency of the wireless application moves into themillimeter wave frequency region. The BS hardware nowrequires LOs and mixers for the frequency conversionprocesses, which may limit the ability to upgrade orreconfigure the radio network with the provision of additional radio channels or the implementation of requiredchanges in RF frequency. IF radio signal transport allowtransmission over low cost multimode fiber (MMF) andseveral commercial RoF products are based on thedistribution of radio signals over MMF since manybuildings have legacy optical fiber infrastructure networksbased on multimode fibers.
Figure 7. Downstream signal transmission via IF over fiber
The third technique that can be used to transport datacarrying radio signals between the CO and the remoteantenna BS in RoF systems is via a baseband over fiberapproach as depicted in Figure 8. The radio information forthe radio carriers is transported to the BS as a time divisionmultiplexed (TDM) digital data stream. The individual data

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