A Bidirectional WDM-PON Free Space Optical (FSO) System for Fronthaul 5 G C-RAN Networks

Fady El-Nahal, Tianhua Xu, Dokhyl Alqahtani, Mark Leeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


High-speed cellular technologies require low-latency and high-capacity optical networks. The Centralized Radio Access Network (C-RAN) architecture offers a cost-effective solution for mobile network deployment. To maximize flexibility and minimize deployment costs of fronthaul networks, we propose a hybrid bidirectional fronthaul C-RAN topology based on Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) passive optical networks (PONs) and free space optical communication (FSO). The wavelength reuse scheme utilized here relies on reflective semiconductor optical amplifiers (RSOAs) to reduce cost and increase capacity. The system was demonstrated for 20 Gbps 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (16-QAM) intensity-modulated orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) downstream signals and 5 Gbps On-off keying (OOK) upstream signals, respectively. A Gamma-Gamma channel model is used to demonstrate optical signal transmission over an FSO link. The bit error rate (BER) results indicate that the hybrid WDM-PON-FSO based fronthaul architecture could achieve 320 Gbps over 20 km of single-mode fiber (SMF) and 700 m free space transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7300208
JournalIEEE Photonics Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Free Space Optics (FSO)
  • centralized radio access network (C-RAN)
  • passive optical network (PON)


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