The first telephone central office was installed in New York State in 1878, and a little less than 100 years later, in 1973, the first call was made over a cell phone. Now, in 2015, wireless technology is being brought into central offices. Heretofore, central offices were sort of the inner sanctums of the wireline side of the business, representing the traditional established world of telephony versus the upstart cowboys of the wireless industry.
Wireless base station hotels taking root in wireline central offices is symbolic of the growing importance of wireless and the increasingly symbiotic relationship between the wireline and the wireless sides of telecom companies.
“We have seen a change in the power structure at the carriers in the last year,” Mark Kerschner, senior wireless product manager, TE Connectivity, told AGL Media Group in a telephone interview. “The wireless side is taking over the management roles that were typically held by the wireline side. The two groups, wireline and wireless, which were previously siloed, are looking for ways to work together and gain efficiencies from that.”
One way of creating efficiencies is to use cloud RAN to distribute wireless capacity to the network through base station hotels in central offices.
“Carriers have been asking about how to merge wireless and wireline together and take advantage of the synergies between the two groups,” Kerschner said. “People have talked about it for the last two years but now we are seeing actual deployments into the central office.”
Collocation in the central office brings with it real estate efficiencies for the wireless operator, including access to fiber optics, power, HVAC and technical support. DAS networks have the ability to tie into existing fiber to the home and fiber to the curb networks to leverage spare pairs of fiber in those networks.
“The ability to have one location to go to is huge from an operational standpoint,” Kerschner said. “It is natural to have one connection that does not require additional build out in the field, trenching fiber or hanging aerial strands.”
TE Connectivity Receives NEBS Level 3 Certification for FlexWave DAS Host Units
So how does DAS equipment qualify to be deployed in the highly standardized central office? TE Connectivity submitted its FlexWave digital DAS Host Unit for 45-days of testing and achieved Network Equipment-Building System (NEBS) Level 3 compliance, which means it meets all telecom carrier standards for network equipment in central offices.
NEBS Level 3 is a set of carrier-class standards developed by Telcordia Technologies to standardize central office equipment around a strict set of requirements for fire suppression, thermal margin testing, vibration resistance, airflow patterns, acoustic limits, failover, RF emissions and tolerance.
The NEBS Level 3-compliant FlexWave host units can now be used for cloud RAN architecture and utilize existing wireline infrastructure to provide wireless access. Deploying FlexWave host units within the service provider’s central office enables access to existing dark fiber and muxponder solutions such as CWDM for digitized RF transport.
“We aim to lead the world in cloud RAN architecture, and this certification goes a long way toward making our FlexWave host standard equipment in central offices,” said Peter Wraight, vice president and general manager of TE Wireless.
TE Connectivity has a backlog of projects waiting to get into central offices, and it will ship product within a month.