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5G Virtualization Over a PON Infrastructure Enabled by Silicon Photonics

The emergence of cloud computing and software defined networks has introduced a new paradigm for global resource allocation. Applications developed for mobile hand-held devices assume computing tools remote and far can be brought to bear. This project focuses on enabling virtualization of the optical/wireless interface, by lowering the capital expense for radio over fiber (RoF) exploitation.

An extensive network of femto-cells at fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) passive optical network (PON) termination points would maximize exploitation of the telecom cloud. Virtualization could be exploited to by forming a cloud radio access network overlaid on traditional PON data. Centralization of analog-to-digital conversion, joint multi-point baseband processing and network coordination would lead to significant reduction in power consumption, and offer greater sectorization and spectrum efficiency while facilitating better management of the network. By examining analog transport rather than digital, constraints imposed by current standards (e.g. CPRI) could be bypassed.

In the past decade, silicon photonics has emerged as an enabling technology for large-scale, low-power photonic systems. Adoption of a silicon photonics solution for combined analog and digital PON signals is required for commercial viability of the 5G femto-cells for PONs.