This solution paper describes the inherent challenges with providing accurate phase and time for 5G mobile networks. Analyst firm Kearney has estimated that the CAPEX cost of time synchronization in mobile rollouts will increase from 0.2-1% in 4G/LTE rollouts to 3-5% for 5G. A potentially even bigger cost lies in that full on-path PTP requires every node to be PTP enabled (FTS) which can lead to costly upgrades and even replacement of existing network equipment, including both IP/MPLS routers and underlying DWDM transport equipment. This results in high costs and often locks the operator into a single vendor. That the sync is tied to the transport and requires support in every node and line card increases operational complexity, both for network planning, installation, trouble shooting and upgrades, leading to significantly increased OPEX for the operators.

GNSS can offer the time accuracy required by 5G networks, but the vulnerability of GNSS/GPS solutions to jamming and spoofing is increasing, which has made both operators and governments look for GNSS/ GPS independent solutions.

Net Insight’s Time Transfer solution provides an alternative synchronization solution which is based on an open overlay architecture disaggregating the synchronization functionality from the transport. It is GNSS/ GPS independent and meets the tough time synchronization requirements from 5G deployments including TDD and Massive MIMO.

Overlay synchronization solutions have the benefit of being open and working over existing infrastructure without requiring a full network upgrade or replacement of nodes. Net Insight’s Precision TimeNet solution uses unique asymmetry detection and compensation in combination with jitter smoothing mechanisms to enhance synchronization performance. The solution has been verified in 5G networks to be well within the timing accuracies required, even over long distances and many hops. The solution technology is well proven and stems from the media industry which has had strict reliability and time synchronization requirements for their single frequency digital TV networks for over fifteen years.

The solution promises to significantly reduce the CAPEX and OPEX in new 5G rollouts, especially for incumbent operators (i.e., brown-field operators) and can significantly reduce rollout times since it can bring time synchronization to 5G RANs over existing transport network infrastructure.

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