Home North AmericaNorth America 2009 Wireless infrastructure built to last

Wireless infrastructure built to last

by david.nunes
Parran Dick Issue: North America 2009
Article no.: 3
Topic: Wireless infrastructure built to last
Author: Dick Parran
Title: President, Network Solutions Business
Organisation: ADC
PDF size: 176KB

About author

Richard (Dick) Parran Jr. is the President of ADC’s Network Solutions Business Unit; he is responsible for the growth and development of the company’s global wireless coverage and capacity business. Mr Parran served previously as President of ADC’s Professional Services Business Unit that helps network operators plan, deploy and maintain their networks. Before that, he was Vice President of Business Development responsible for leading the company’s mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and venture capital investment activities. Prior to joining ADC, Mr Parran, a 25-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, held a number of management positions with companies such as Paragon Cable and Centel Corporation. Mr Parran holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University. He serves on the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and is a board member of the ADC Foundation.

Article abstract

Richard (Dick) Parran Jr. is the President of ADC’s Network Solutions Business Unit; he is responsible for the growth and development of the company’s global wireless coverage and capacity business. Mr Parran served previously as President of ADC’s Professional Services Business Unit that helps network operators plan, deploy and maintain their networks. Before that, he was Vice President of Business Development responsible for leading the company’s mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and venture capital investment activities. Prior to joining ADC, Mr Parran, a 25-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, held a number of management positions with companies such as Paragon Cable and Centel Corporation. Mr Parran holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University. He serves on the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering and is a board member of the ADC Foundation.

Full Article

Today’s infrastructure for tomorrow’s services? Radio infrastructure is in flux. W-CDMA, HSPA, and WiMAX deployments have begun in earnest, and LTE is on the horizon. These services tax existing macro cell sites as never before. Traditionally, macro wireless networks have relied on large, ‘boomer’ towers that provide blanket coverage. However, this approach to delivering wireless signals is difficult to sustain in the 3G and 4G environments. There are several issues: • Insufficient coverage – 3G and 4G networks commonly operate at frequencies above 2GHz, which attenuate much more quickly than the lower frequencies used in 2G networks. In traditional macro networks, there are ‘shadow’ areas where signals can’t reach, such as urban canyons where buildings block signals from the nearest tower, the interiors of buildings where building materials block signals and dense public facilities such as subways, airports, stadiums, and arenas. Relatively weak signals in these shadow areas, coupled with higher bandwidth needed for new services, makes it more important than ever to find ways to improve coverage. • Shrinking capacity – A legacy cell designed only to provide voice services at lower frequency bands can only provide today’s new data services within smaller areas, creating a need for a more and smaller cells. • Expansion difficulties – Large BTS (base transceiver station)/cell site deployments are costly, making traditional network expansion expensive. Even when providers are willing to invest in new macro cell sites, local governments in urban as well as residential areas are increasingly reluctant to allow unfettered deployment of large cell sites due to aesthetic and health concerns. Carriers must find new ways to deliver service in underserved areas. • Rising OPEX (operational expense) costs – High fuel prices and higher numbers of distributed cell sites are making it difficult for carriers to rein in the cost of maintaining their macro BTS deployments. • Poor flexibility – It can be difficult to retrofit existing cell sites to deliver new protocols and services. In addition, adding new protocols and services to existing cells while maintaining service for legacy services creates a challenge for network planning and efficient radio utilization. • Insufficient and expensive backhaul capacity – Typically, macro cellular sites rely on T1/E1 lines operating at 1.5/2.0 Mbps. To support higher bandwidth and new services, carriers have been required to continue adding new lines, often by leasing them from competitors. Carriers must find new ways to reduce backhaul costs, which now typically represent more than 30 per cent of OPEX. Addressing these challenges requires more than point products – it requires new thinking about the overall RAN infrastructure. The new wireless infrastructure While macro networks have sufficed for legacy wireless networks, today’s challenges require a new type of infrastructure that offers better coverage and capacity, easier and more cost-effective expansion as needs change, more flexibility to accommodate new protocols and services, and improved backhaul capacity. Rather than thinking exclusively in terms of macro cells, carriers will need to supplement existing macro assets with microcells for spot coverage in urban shadows as well as inside buildings, subways, tunnels, and other structures. This new microcellular RAN will enhance legacy macro network infrastructure with distributed antenna systems (DAS), picocells, microcells, and femtocells. In order to provide cost-effective links to these systems from existing cell tower base stations (BTS) or base station hotels, these new products will rely on IP transport via fibre links when available, or via microwave and millimetre wave radios when fibre transport is impractical due to cost or local zoning issues. Let us look at how this type of infrastructure addresses key service delivery challenges as the world migrates to 3G and 4G services. Coverage and capacity Since macro network signals alone can’t provide adequate service within structures or in areas where the macro signal is blocked by buildings or terrain, carriers will use remote radio systems, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and small BTS (picocells and femtocells) to provide coverage and capacity. Micro cellular network equipment lets carriers eliminate coverage gaps in the macro network with equipment that is cost-effective, easy to deploy, and easy to maintain. Carriers can use distributed radios anywhere coverage is needed, thereby working around traditional obstructions, eliminating shadow areas in networks, and improving customer satisfaction. Expansion Microcellular base station solutions allow an operator to add capacity in the network exactly where needed, and at far lower cost than expanding the macro BTS network. This not only saves money in covering building interiors or other problem spots in the network, but it also saves money by off-loading the macro network, thereby delaying or reducing capex (capital expense) spending on macro network capacity expansion. We have seen some of these deployments already in public facilities such as airports, subways, and highway tunnels, but we can expect the trend to continue into commercial buildings. Flexibility As wireless technology continues to evolve, carriers will want to deploy equipment that, with upgrades, can accommodate new services and protocols. The simplest way to provide this flexibility is to enable centrally re-configurable Radio Access Network (RAN) systems, so a change made at a central point can affect hundreds of cell sites, rather than deploying service personnel to reconfigure individual cell sites. BTS can be deployed in the central Base Station Hotel, but carriers will want to deploy DAS that are protocol agnostic to protect these investments over the long haul and greatly minimize truck rolls and forklift upgrades. Software-defined radios will also play a key role in providing protocol flexibility. Backhaul Broadband wireless will bring huge increases in backhaul requirements, and carriers will move away from circuit-switched T1 lines to more cost-effective and scalable Ethernet-based solutions. The small BTS units deployed on site in many locations will leverage existing wireline Ethernet connections, while others will use microwave and millimetre wave antenna systems. The key requirement here is that the system should be scalable to provide more backhaul capacity as the market evolves. CAPEX reduction Microcellular networks can offer significant savings compared with a traditional macro BTS deployment by reducing site development expenditures and maximizing radio utilization: • Smaller BTS and localized antenna systems use lower-cost real estate to cover macro and in-building networks; and • Small remote radio solutions can be deployed almost anywhere: on the sides of buildings, on utility poles, on overhead lines, and on or under street fixtures. In addition, a single remote radio can support multiple bands and protocols, further reducing site development expenditures and accelerating time to market. OPEX reduction With IP-connected micro cellular solutions, carriers can reduce OPEX in a number of ways: • Indoor and outdoor DAS products promote centralization of BTS radio capacity, which results in increased trunking efficiency and decreased backhaul cost; • A centralized BTS approach enables infrastructure sharing, lowering ongoing lease costs, technician travel/fuel costs, site maintenance/upgrade costs, and heating and cooling costs; • The use of IP backhaul provides tremendous on-going OPEX savings—as much as a 75 per cent reduction in costs as compared to traditional E1/T1 backhaul techniques; • In many cases, an operator can actually leverage ‘free’ IP-backhaul already in place at an enterprise location by connecting an IP-fed picocell to an existing DSL modem or corporate LAN; and • Indoor DAS products feature extensive end-to-end alarming and remote maintenance capabilities, including full SNMP support that reduces life cycle costs. Business improvements Beyond solving operational challenges, a micro cellular network infrastructure will improve the business case for many wireless carriers in several ways: • It improves customer satisfaction and reduces churn; • It enables much faster deployment, allowing carriers to scale coverage, capacity, and services in days or weeks as opposed to months or years; • It allows carriers to help enterprise customers standardize on reliable, low-cost wireless infrastructure, further cementing carrier relationships; and • It improves the carrier’s long-term business case by extending use of the network through future protocol upgrades without major RAN upgrades. In an environment where mobile subscribers demand new services and competition is tougher than ever, wireless carriers must evolve their infrastructure to gain flexibility and performance while reducing costs. By adopting microcellular network infrastructure, mobile operators can maximize their investments in existing macro network infrastructure while cost effectively evolving their networks to support future service offerings.

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