What’s All This Fronthaul Stuff?

“Fronthaul” is one of the “in” topics at the moment in mobile networks, so I thought it would be good to explore what it all means, and especially how it affects synchronization, because we all like to keep in sync.

So what is fronthaul, anyway? Well to understand that, we have to understand what “backhaul” is. “Backhaul” was a term originally coined by the trucking industry, and referred to a truck carrying a load from remote location back to a central distribution centre. The term then got applied in all sorts of contexts to refer to links connecting a remote site to a central site.

In mobile telecoms, it was applied to the link from the radio basestation back into the core network, “hauling” the data back from the basestation to the core. Of course, these links are bi-directional, so it also carries data from the core out to the basestation.

Where does fronthaul fit into this? Typically, the basestation sat in a cabinet, connected by a co-ax running up the tower to the antenna. Someone then had the bright idea that since the co-ax had issues with power loss, why not site the actual RF transceiver at the top of the tower by the antenna, and connect the transceiver via optical fibre to the basestation below.


This fibre connection between the basestation and the RF transceiver became known as “fronthaul”.

For more details check out my previous blogs covering the topics below.

  • Getting into the hotel business.

  • Networking the fronthaul.

  • Synchronization requirements for fronthaul.

  • Synchronization methods in fronthaul.

  • Testing synchronization in fronthaul.

Tim Frost
Strategic Technology Manager, Calnex Solutions.

Recent Blogs

Related Blogs

Four Boardroom Members

How to Optimise Your IT Network and Spend

Feb 06, 2019
Network emulation can be a key tool to overcome barriers in getting the most out of your…
4274 Read more

Responding to IT Network Issues

Jan 22, 2019
If simple remedial scripts are not enough to fix an IT network issue, a more…
4938 Read more

Keeping Audiences 'In the Moment'

Nov 16, 2018
Today’s broadcast audiences are seeking more. They want user defined, on demand content.…
1620 Read more

Archived Blogs

1387 More
1613 More

Timing not Telecoms

Nov 08, 2016
1064 More

5G Coming Soon

Aug 22, 2016
1072 More

What is 1588 PTP?

Aug 04, 2016
1388 More

5G on the Horizon

Aug 01, 2016
1093 More
1097 More

What is a PTP Clock?

Apr 09, 2016
1351 More

What is Time Error?

Oct 21, 2015
1088 More

LTE-A & VoLTE Rollout

Sep 22, 2015
1054 More

LTE Picks Up Speed

Aug 22, 2015
1021 More

What is the Time?

Aug 22, 2015
1056 More

Mobile and Sync

Aug 22, 2015
1021 More

What is SyncE?

Aug 22, 2015
2091 More
1150 More

Microwave Update

Aug 22, 2015
1112 More

Unravelling Standards

Aug 22, 2015
1094 More

Partial Progress?

Aug 22, 2015
1028 More

Interpreting ITU

Aug 22, 2015
1032 More

Confusion Rules!

Aug 22, 2015
1087 More

Basestations Need Sync

Aug 22, 2015
1076 More

ITSF 2015 Edinburgh

Aug 22, 2015
1021 More

India to Follow China?

Aug 07, 2015
1034 More

Click your area of interest below for more tutorials and real-world case studies.