|Topic:||Green wireless – eliminating the digital divide|
|Organisation:||Huawei Asia Pacific Network Strategy & Marketing|
Sethumadhavan Srinivasan is the Deputy Director of Huawei, Asia Pacific Network Strategy & Marketing. He has more than 18 years’ experience in technical and managerial positions, in R&D, network engineering, marketing, project management and business development. Mr Srinivasan currently leads the 3G and WiMAX business planning and is the Strategy & Solutions Architect in IP technologies, Packet Transport, NGN, Carrier Ethernet, and converged ‘All IP’ network architecture for the Indian market. Sethumadhavan Srinivasan graduated with an Honours degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.
Given its cost and efficiency, WiMAX and other forms of 4G wireless broadband are ideal for broadband rollout in rural regions. In India, WiMAX’s lower cost spectrum, bandwidth (20 MHz per operator) and global equipment ecosystem will likely play a leading role in the delivery of key applications such as tele-medicine, distant education and e-governance. High efficiency power amplifier technology, distributed base stations, intelligent power control, multi-carrier technology, intelligent site solutions and alternative energy are both ‘green’ and cost-effective.
Beyond doubt, the proliferation of broadband is the key to enable social and economic development of the Indian subcontinent. With only five million broadband connections, or two per cent of the households, there is a great sea of opportunity to exploit. For a country that is adding up to ten million mobile subscribers every month, where more than 70 per cent of the population resides in rural areas, and with poor fixed infrastructure, wireless broadband is clearly the way to bridge the digital divide. Wireless can easily deliver the targeted 20 million broadband connections by 2010. The upcoming broadband wireless access (BWA) auctions in the 2.3GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum for WiMAX and 2.1 GHz spectrum for 3G are key steps in the development of broadband in India. Total cost of ownership Global and Indian per Hertz trends for 3G spectrum (WCDMA/HSxPA)and for 4G (BWA/WiMAX) spectrum, seem to indicate that WiMAX – due to its lower cost spectrum, larger bandwidth (20 MHz per operator) and its improved equipment ecosystem will play a leading role in the delivery of key applications such as tele-medicine, distant education and e-governance. After many testing years, WiMAX is now poised for growth. Favourable atmosphere Computer literacy and low-priced PCs Low costs for both connectivity and computing devices are essential to the success of India’s mobile industry. There have been efforts to bring 3.3 GHz spectrum BWA solutions to the market, but they were high priced, limited to specific devices, did not serve business needs well and were not mobile. The 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz band equipment – now that frequency bands are globally harmonized – have a lower-cost global equipment ecosystem; the equipment will also work seamlessly with the existing WiFi ecosystem. Rapidly eroding prices are driving the growth of PC and laptop penetration and 70 per cent of the computer-literate community use the Internet; this led to a 48 per cent growth in PC ownership during 2008. Today’s network-ready PCs, with minimal hard drive capacity and a basic application environment, have reduced PC prices by over 40 per cent and brought broadband connectivity within reach of many new consumers. Government initiatives The Indian Government’s recent reduction of import duties on wireless cards has encouraged the decline of hardware prices. Lower excise duties provide an incentive to the manufacturing sector as well. Further, to promote the growth of the Internet in rural areas, 112,000 Common Service Centres are being set up by the Indian Government. The topology of Indian rural areas is well suited for WiMAX Deployment as 85 per cent of villages are within 15-20km radius of Taluka Towns where access centres can be set up. A Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund has also been set up to subsidise services in rural areas. The expansion of new office complexes, hotspots and organized retail centres, is creating many new opportunities for growth. Service provider ROI Though the atmosphere is ripe for WiMAX proliferation in India, operators face several issues that must be resolved. These issues have to do with the return on investment (ROI) they can effectively obtain offering reliable and cost-effective broadband services to the masses. The key concerns are: • last mile connectivity and coverage efficiency; • high capital and operating expenses (CAPEX and OPEX); • rural electricity and provisioning; • high cost of existing high-power solutions; • customer cost/affordability; and • total cost of ownership (TCO) and operational issues Operators are also concerned about their corporate social responsibility; environmentally sound -‘green’ – development and operation is a priority given global awareness and ‘Charter’ commitments to sustainable development. • the UN Climate Conference agreed, on December 15, 2007, to a roadmap for negotiations on a new treaty to combat global warming; • China’s government launched the National Scheme for Weather Changes, on June 4, 2007, adopting environmental protection as a fundamental goal of its national policy; and • on March 8, 2007, the European Union promised that by the end of 2010 it will decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent compared with 1990. Green solution The world’s telecom equipment suppliers are rolling out their own green base stations. However, since there is no defined industry standard, each has its own definition of a green solution If we analyze the one-time capital expenditure (CAPEX) before launch time and the operational expenditure (OPEX) afterwards, it is apparent that a real green solution should incorporate environmental protection into product design and production to significantly save energy and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO). Advanced Power Amplifier High efficiency power amplifier technology has been found to improve the reliability of base station, and inherently decrease the power consumption. For a 1,000 node S3/3/3 local network configuration, the usage of a high efficiency base station compared to a traditional base station not only provides high reliability, but economises up to US$2.3 million annually in electricity (US$0.125 /kWh), and saves 12,141 tons in CO2 emission; 1 kWh translates to about 0.66 kg of CO2 emission. Distributed and multimode base station A base station typically consists of the baseband unit (BBU) and radio remote units (RRU), to process baseband signals and RF signals respectively. In the distributed base station concept, the BBUs link to one or more RRUs through optical fibre cables. The RRUs are deployed outdoors, while the BBUs can be centrally located and shared by many RRUs. This arrangement dramatically saves space and simultaneously enhances coverage by reducing feeder losses, and significantly decreases the need for air-conditioning equipment. Considering that site rental and power consumption consumes 40 per cent of the total OPEX, this is a significant saving. Further, multi-mode base stations give service providers a choice of access technology – 2G or 3G or LTE – by just upgrading the software. This smoothes the evolution to new technologies while protecting investment and monetizing current network assets over a longer cycle. ALL-IP unified architecture As the networks gradually evolve towards an ALL-IP core network, IP based transmission between the RNC (radio network controller) and the base stations reduces network costs for real-time voice, data and multi-media services, compared to traditional TDM/ATM based services. This evolution has begun thanks to the rapid standardization by 3GPP and ITU-T that makes this evolution possible. Further, the advantages of statistical multiplexing, overbooking, resource pooling etc. reduce the service providers’ TCO and improve network efficiency. Modern base stations deliver IP-based services, save power and enhance capacity by using a convergent platform. Intelligent power control This feature shuts down the carriers when not needed and beaming only when traffic requires. This, in addition to saving power, contributes to environmental sustainability and increases equipment lifetime. Multi-carrier technology Multi-band carrier technology lets base stations support two or more carriers on a single TRX/sector, giving the base station the potential to support networks with higher capacity and coverage on a unified platform. This also drastically reduces the power consumption of the overall network. Intelligent site solution Outdoor base stations with high temperature tolerance save on the costs of energy-intensive cooling systems and save more than 35 per cent of total power consumption. Alternative Energy Finally, to reduce power consumption, service providers are increasingly deploying alternate sources of energy like solar, wind, bio-fuels and hybrid power systems. Development of a local ecosystem is essential for servicing and maintaining such power systems. Some service providers in India have already taken steps to successfully implement bio-gas driven base stations. Hybrid solutions are generating a lot of interest among operators, since a fuel cell may be used as a power backup in case of insufficient sunlight or wind. Under typical conditions, the power generated by such alternate energy sources is sufficient to power modern base stations. The modular design of the base stations coupled with innovative technology, simplifies wiring between different modules and network elements and enables much simpler site construction, smoother expansion, and minimises the costs of construction. Operators benefit from easy installation, cost-effective site acquisition, and shortening of network deployment time. Corporate green initiatives help profitability by rapidly reducing TCO in an increasingly competitive environment and improving the Total Value Offering (TVO). The green initiatives’ unprecedented opportunity will bring affordable next-generation broadband services even closer to the rural population.