Cloud radio access network: Virtualizing wireless access for dense heterogeneous systems

Osvaldo Simeone, Andreas Maeder, Mugen Peng, Onur Sahin, Wei Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Cloud radio access network (C-RAN) refers to the visualization of base station functionalities by means of cloud computing. This results in a novel cellular architecture in which low-cost wireless access points, known as radio units or remote radio heads, are centrally managed by a reconfigurable centralized 'cloud', or central, unit. C-RAN allows operators to reduce the capital and operating expenses needed to deploy and maintain dense heterogeneous networks. This critical advantage, along with spectral efficiency, statistical multiplexing and load balancing gains, make C-RAN well positioned to be one of the key technologies in the development of 5G systems. In this paper, a succinct overview is presented regarding the state of the art on the research on C-RAN with emphasis on fronthaul compression, baseband processing, medium access control, resource allocation, system-level considerations and standardization efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7487951
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Communications and Networks
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


  • 5G
  • Backhaul
  • cloud radio access network (C-RAN)
  • cloud radio access networks
  • common public radio interface (CPRI)
  • fronthaul
  • radio resource management


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