Agilent Technologies Inc. announced an agreement to collaborate with China Mobile Communications Co. Ltd. Research Institute (CMRI). China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile network operator and a market leader in 3G and next-generation wireless network development.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing today to initiate a collaboration that will focus on developing technology and test methods for a next-generation cloud-based radio access network, or C-RAN.

C-RAN is a new approach to network design using a centralized, collaborative, cloud-based radio access network to build an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, intelligent network. Agilent and CMRI believe that this initiative could lead to a new network design standard for China and for the global wireless network industry.

It is anticipated that the new C-RAN architecture will include multiple wireless standards such as GSM, TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, and TD-LTE-Advanced will centralize signal processing in the cloud through a high-speed optical fiber link and would support eight antennas in a single base station, coordinated multipoint transmission and reception (CoMP), and general-purpose processors for wireless data processing.

“Our working relationship with CMRI in the C-RAN initiative will allow Agilent and CMRI to lead the development of a new architecture and test methods required for long-term success throughout the value chain,” said Andy Botka, Agilent vice president and general manager of the Microwave and Communication Division. “This collaboration will help C-RAN developers solve challenging technical problems before the network is built and perform troubleshooting in the central office before C-RAN is deployed in the field.”

“C-RAN is the green radio access network initiated by China Mobile with the aim of large capacity, low cost and high power efficiency,” said Dr. Chihlin I, chief scientist of CMRI. “With the addition of Agilent, the world’s leading testing and measurement instrument vendor, C-RAN has formed a complete industry chain from communication vendor to IT vendors to testing vendors to mobile operators. It’s believed that with the close cooperation of the industry, realization of C-RAN will soon be possible.”

This strategic collaboration leverages Agilent’s expertise in both wireless test solutions and software defined radios. Agilent’s eight-antenna TD-SCDMA/TD-LTE beam-forming measurement solutions will directly support CoMP measurements in C-RAN, which is one of the core features anticipated to be part of the new network. Agilent will also provide baseband measurement solutions to enable wireless signal-fading emulation and analysis, to help the C-RAN developers test the performance of the new baseband units in the cloud. Agilent’s and China Mobile’s respective research groups also plan to explore data processing and measurement capability on general-purpose processors.

Agilent’s collaborative work with CMRI on C-RAN also reflects the strong commitment by Agilent in China to support industry leaders in the development of next-generation wireless technologies. Agilent plans to have a dedicated team in its R&D center in Beijing to work with CMRI and other C-RAN program participants.

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