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Understanding the CPRI Specification and Its Successor, eCPRI

Every generation of mobile network brings about new technology and infrastructure improvements to support faster data rates, greater bandwidth, and improved efficiency and coverage. To keep up with these advancements, base station architectures have steadily evolved over time.

The introduction of fourth generation cellular (4G) required major changes in the traditional analog radio architecture, such as the migration of all analog circuitry to the remote radio unit (RRU). This migration included the elimination of the coaxial connection between the baseband unit (BBU) and RRU, a common source of signal degradation due to insertion loss reflections, and other imperfections encountered along the signal path. Now the BBU and RRU can be separated by up to 20 km of high-performance, high-throughput fiber-optic cabling. The Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) is the specification that defines the communication protocol running over the dedicated fiber link.


This white paper provides a high-level overview of CPRI as a practical resource for RAN engineers. The latter portion of the article also describes the eCPRI specification, the next evolution of CPRI for 5G networks.


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