Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-klj7v Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-01T05:07:43.578Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

3 - The 5G architecture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2016

Heinz Droste
Deutsche Telekom
Icaro Leonardo Da Silva
Peter Rost
Mauro Boldi
Telecom Italia
Afif Osseiran
Jose F. Monserrat
Universitat Politècnica de València
Patrick Marsch
Mischa Dohler
King's College London
Takehiro Nakamura
NTT DoCoMo Inc.
Get access



The design of a mobile network architecture aims at defining network elements (e.g. Base Stations [BSs], switches, routers, user devices) and their interaction in order to ensure a consistent system operation. This chapter discusses basic considerations and provides an overview of current research activities. Network architecture can be considered from different angles that are needed in order to fulfill objectives like integration of technical components into an overall system, proper interworking of multi-vendor equipment and efficient design of physical networks from cost and performance point of view.

As 5G systems have to integrate a plethora of partly contradicting requirements, enablers such as Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) are to be applied in order to provide the needed flexibility of future networks, especially for the core network. Applying these tools may require a rethinking of some traditional aspects of network architecture design. This chapter will give the reader an impression of the most important topics influencing architecture design of future networks.


Today's operator networks include a large and increasing variety of hardware appliances. Launching new services often requires integration of complex hardware dedicated to the service including costly procedure design and is associated with lengthy time to market. On the other hand, hardware life cycles become shorter as technology and service innovation accelerates.

At the end of 2012, network operators have started an initiative on NFV [1]. NFV aims at consolidating the variety of network equipment onto industry-standard high-volume servers. These servers can be located at the different network nodes as well as end-user premises. In this context, NFV relies upon but differs from traditional server virtualization. Unlike server virtualization, Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) may consist of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes in order to replace custom hardware appliances (Figure 3.1). As a rule, multiple VNFs are to be used in sequence in order to provide meaningful services to the customer.

NFV requires an orchestration framework that enables proper instantiation, monitoring and operation of VNFs and Network Functions (NFs) (e.g. modulation, coding, multiple access, ciphering, etc.).

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


[1] AT&T et al., “Network Function Virtualization: An Introduction, Benefits, Enablers, Challenges & Call for Action,” White Paper, October 2012,
[2] Open Networking Foundation, “Software-Defined Networking: The New Form for Networks,” ONF White Paper, April 13, 2012,
[3] 3GPP TS 36.300, “Overall description; Stage 2 (Release 12),” Technical Specification TS 36.300 V11.7.0, Technical Specification Group Radio Access Network, September 2013.
[4] ICT-317669 METIS project, “Final report on the METIS 5G system concept and technology roadmap,” Deliverable 6.6, Version 1, May 2015.
[5] NGMN, “5G Whitepaper,” February 2015,
[6] ICT-317669 METIS project, “Final report on architecture,” Deliverable 6.4, Version 1, January 2015.
[7] ICT-317941 iJOIN project, “Final definition of iJOIN architecture,” Deliverable 5.3, Version 1, April 2015.
[8] ICT-317941 iJOIN project, “Revised definition of requirements and preliminary definition of the iJOIN architecture,” Deliverable 5.1, Version 1, October 2013.
[9] Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI), “Interface Specification,” CPRI Specification V6.0, August 2013.
[10] Open Radio equipment Interface (ORI), “ORI Interface Specification,” ETSI GS ORI V4.1.1, June 2014.
[11] Olsson, M., Sultana, S., Rommer, S., Frid, L., and Mulligan, C., SAE and the Evolved Packet Core, Driving the Mobile Broadband Revolution, ed. Academic Press, 2009.
[12] Silva, I. Da et al., “Tight integration of new 5G air interface and LTE to fulfill 5G requirements,” in 1st 5G architecture Workshop, IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Glasgow, May 2015.
[13] IST-2002–001858 Everest Project. [Online]
[14] Johnsson, M., Sachs, J., Rinta-aho, T., and Jokikyyny, T., “Ambient networks: A framework for multi-access control in heterogeneous networks,” in IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Montreal, September 25–28, 2006.
[15] 3GPP TR 36.842, “Study on Small Cell Enhancements for E-UTRA and E-UTRAN – Higher layer aspects,” Technical Report TR 36.842 V12.0.0, Technical Specification Group Radio Access Network, January 2014.
[16] ICT-317941 iJOIN project, “Final definition and evaluation of PHY layer approaches for RANaaS and joint backhaul-access layer,” Deliverable 2.3, Version 1, April 2015.
[17] Rost, P. and Prasad, A., “Opportunistic hybrid ARQ: Enabler of centralized-RAN over non-ideal backhaul,” IEEE Wireless Communications Letters, vol. 3, no. 5, pp. 481–484, October 2014.Google Scholar
[18] Fritzsche, R., Rost, P., and Fettweis, G., “Robust rate adaptation and proportional fair scheduling with imperfect CSI,” IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 14, no. 8, pp. 4417–4427, August 2015.Google Scholar
[19] ICT-317941 iJOIN project, “Final definition and evaluation of network-layer algorithms and network operation and management,” Deliverable 4.3, Version 1, April 2015.
[20] Suryaprakash, V., Rost, P., and Fettweis, G., “Are heterogeneous cloud-based radio access networks cost effective?,” IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, vol. 33, no. 10, pp. 2239–2251, October 2015.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats