The 5G Access Network identifies an Access network (5G-RAN or non-3GPP access network) that connects to the 5G core network. The 5G Access network can support MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output ) antennas , wide spectrum bandwidths, multi band Carrier Aggregation technologies and many more. The Access Network should be able to support Mobile Edge computing (MEC) and Network Slicing concepts which will contribute to lower latency and make 5G a powerful technology.
A RAN provides access and coordinates the management of resources across the radio sites. Components of RAN include a base station and an antenna that can cover a specific region depending upon its coverage and capacity parameters. In 5G, the recent evolution in the 5G RAN Architecture divides the Control plane and User plane into separate entities. User data messages can then be exchanged via the RAN controller which is there in the 5GC. This separation of the Control plane and user plane allows the RAN to be more flexible.
For 5G networks, the base station is called as gNB (Next generation Base station ), the base station takes the digital packets from the 5GC. It comprises 1 sector which is used for small cells and upto 3 sectors which are used for longer coverage and high capacity. The Access network has functions which includes : signal processing for using multiple antennas, signal processing for detecting and correcting errors in the wireless transmission, signal processing to ensure that the signal transmission is secure, managing the wireless resources efficiently between different devices in the network etc.
In 5G Access networks, there is an introduction of new functional splits , for higher bands 5G antennas are integrated with the antenna for efficient implementation of massive MIMO, beamforming and beam tracking that are necessary to efficiently use 5G frequencies. Artificial Intelligence methods are also introduced in the 5G RAN in order to secure optimal performance. Security is also a key element in RAN where it has to follow three aspects of security which includes Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.