|Issue:||Asia-Pacific II 2009|
|Topic:||Solutions for next-generation wireless|
|Title:||VP, Asia Pacific and China|
|Organisation:||Andrew Wireless Solutions|
Ben Cardwell is the Vice President of Asia Pacific and China for Andrew Wireless Solutions and is responsible for Andrew’s sales and marketing, in the Asia Pacific and China region. An 18-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, Mr Cardwell previously was director, Systems Engineering, Asia Pacific for Andrew. Prior to joining Andrew, Mr Cardwell served in various leadership positions within Research & Development, Product Management, Systems Engineering, and Field Sales with UTStarcom, Ericsson, and 3Com. Mr Cardwell graduated from Davidson College, North Carolina, with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. He holds an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.
Fourth generation (4G) – LTE and WiMAX – networks address the limitations of 3G and are currently in trials and rollouts. Operators expect 4G networks to handle more traffic at lower cost. The new 4G infrastructure equipment uses considerably less energy and is ‘greener’ than earlier networks. Infrastructure that optimises network performance and reduces management costs will help maintain operator profitability in an increasingly competitive market. Careful planning of both the backhaul network and indoor network coverage is essential.
Fourth generation (4G) networks are positioned as the next generation of wireless networks; they can more efficiently deliver truly high-performance applications like multi-media, full-motion video, and other interactive communication modes. The main impetus for the new network infrastructure is that the current 3G networks have several things working against them: • multiple standards that make it difficult to roam and interoperate across networks; • 3G is based on WAN technology and is difficult to adapt to LAN or cell-based traffic; • limited bandwidth; • newer modulation schemes that cannot be retrofitted are now available; and • 3G is not a full digital packet network that utilizes IP with converged voice and data capability 4G was developed to address all the limitations of 3G and it has seen much acceptance in the market, as evident in the numerous Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX trials and rollouts. However, to roll out 4G networks, you need 4G solutions to make these advanced networks work. The new 4G radio frequency and network solutions need to be agnostic in approach to standards, frequencies and technologies. In particular, operators are looking at: • ways to reduce costs while increasing network growth; • how to incorporate environmentally friendly solutions into the network; and • how to deploy LTE and WiMAX the right way, the first time. Operating cost issues Today, reducing operating costs is critical to the health of an operator’s business. There are some new cabinet and tower based solutions in the market – including filters, amplifiers, antennas, repeaters and fully integrated base station RF offerings – covering various LTE frequencies. These are currently available for customer evaluation and should be market-ready when LTE begins initial trials and deployment in some markets later in 2009. Broad deployment of LTE should commence during 2010 and 2011. Similarly, WiMAX-enabled solutions, including antenna and cable products are currently in active use in live network applications. While these products are fully functional, operators need to look at their networks from a management point of view and consider solutions that manage and optimize the network and help limit site maintenance and staffing. Imagine having a remote cell site control and monitoring solution that remotely audits network performance, sends alerts, and provides operators unprecedented control over remote electrical tilt antennas, amplifiers, thermostats, batteries and power levels. Imagine also, antenna systems that continuously re-balance traffic across all sectors or mobile localisation centres that help operators cost-effectively grow their networks with location-based services. With today’s intense cost pressures, operators are looking for innovative technologies to help manage such concerns – not just to enable wireless communications, but to make them better and more profitable. How about ‘green’? Making next generation networks better and more profitable also means ‘taking the Green road’. Responsible corporate citizenship aside, operators are looking at the savings obtained by reducing their environmental impact. For example, there is an increasing interest in hydrogen fuel cell cabinets, which eliminates the need for lead acid batteries and diesel generators, and in integrated cabinets with high-efficiency cooling technologies that drastically reduce energy consumption. The use of high efficiency power amplifiers, which almost double current efficiency levels and minimize energy loss to heat, has a significant impact on operating costs while minimizing the environmental impact. Next-Gen planning Wireless operators deploying next generation technologies will be evaluating upgrades to their backhaul networks to handle the traffic from bandwidth-intensive communications, a process simplified by next generation microwave planning software solution. The new solutions are designed to help network engineers easily deploy microwave links by analyzing, designing, optimizing and maintaining a comprehensive database of their network. This means that wireless operators can minimize expenses by getting the most productivity from their engineering resources and avoid costly mistakes during the planning process. In addition, the new solutions enable efficient use of available spectrum by limiting interference in congested areas, and effectively future-proofing against wasted spectrum in the backhaul networks that support high data rates. As part of their evaluation of LTE and WiMAX technologies, operators are evaluating the ability of their backhaul networks capabilities to support the higher data rates these 4G technologies generate. Those who need new microwave backhaul networks – whether it is 50 links or over 40,000 – will find the new solutions provide robust tools for effectively planning, optimizing and managing their spectrum. Wide-area planning aside, what is interesting for the market are the introduction of products such wireless drive-test system and spectrum management solutions, that are specifically developed to support operators with their location planning, deployment and testing. The new wireless test-drive systems make designing and testing indoor wireless coverage systems easier. For example, a portable transmitter imitates the wireless base station signals by broadcasting radio frequency (RF) signals that facilitate indoor coverage measurements. Network designers can use the transmitter to pinpoint the best antenna positions for indoor distributed antenna systems (DAS) and as a low power source for testing the design and functionality of RF repeaters and base stations. The test transmitter is a highly effective tool for verifying in-building coverage, DAS and repeater system design; it helps customers maximize the performance of their indoor networks prior to final installation. These transmitters provide over 20 dBm of transmission power and support GSM, CDMA, UMTS and W-CDMA frequency bands with user-settable channel and message parameters. Users can configure them via WiFi connections, selecting the desired frequency and modulation schemes, can set the parameters as needed. For ease of operation, the unit is switches between transmit and standby modes via the Wi-Fi connection. Wireless test-drive systems let wireless operators view their own, or their competitors’, wireless voice and data services from the subscriber’s perspective by providing critical quality-of-service (QoS) measurements. They help to identify failed originations, abnormal ends, call setup time, and call quality for improving voice service levels. In addition, they also perform packet data testing for analyzing upload/download throughput speeds for data services and field personnel can use these systems to independently check network signal strength and identify base station locations and sectors. Indoor network planning There are now complete in-building wireless testing solutions available. For network designers, system installers and other in-building wireless professionals wishing, this can be an invaluable tool – it will help avoid costly, time-consuming, design and installation mistakes. The system includes everything needed to confirm the proper design and placement of in-building antenna or repeater systems prior to final installation, helping ensure optimal indoor wireless coverage. Network designers can use the system to conduct initial surveys of a building, detect ambient RF interference and signal weak spots, which can then be accounted for in the system design. In fact, the designer can walk through the building taking RF readings, and log the results on the building’s floor plan for analysis and design of the in-building coverage network. The transmitter can even be used for temporarily transmitting RF signals inside the building, in imitation of expected signal levels and to help with design. Poor network quality is one thing that can ruin a customer relationship. However, with these tools at hand, operators can safeguard their network investments and be certain they will not unintentionally compromise the network’s quality.