SoftRAN: Software Defined Radio Access Network

Sachin Katti, Stanford University 


The RAN in the future (LTE-A, 5G) will be dense and heterogeneous. At the same time, traffic demands on the RAN are also scaling and becoming diverse. Scaling capacity and managing such a dense chaotic infrastructure requires tight co-ordination in the infrastructure to tackle interference, as well as the ability to flexibly and dynamically define eNB behavior to handle network and traffic diversity. This research agenda aims to bring a software defined networking approach to designing, deploying and managing the RAN. We show how by systematically decoupling the LTE control and user planes across the entire architecture, from the eNB to the transport, we can build efficient, scalable and tightly coordinated RANs while retaining the flexibility to change the network service definition on the fly. SoftRAN’s architecture creates very simple eNBs with standard interfaces and stripped of complex control mechanisms, designs a low latency but practical mobile transport for the control plane, and designs a low latency software controller to implement functions such as CoMP, RAN slicing etc.