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5 Steps for Wireless Network Modernization

By Elie Kanakri, Contributing Author

When new frequency bands (e.g. 700, 800, 1400MHz) become available, operators need to review the smartest ways to upgrade their wireless network, especially when it comes to deploying new spectrum across base station antennas.

And while the radio frequency (RF) domain is changing quickly, it’s better to plan this network modernization carefully to maximize benefits while minimizing costs in the long term.

I’ve outlined five steps that mobile network providers can take when selecting new antennas:

Step 1: Understand the radio spectrum matrix

It’s critical to understand the current and future frequency bands that the operator is planning to use (at least for the next five years) and when these bands will be available. This information serves as a guide for BSA selection.

Step 2: Add technologies to the frequency matrix

Next, we need to link technologies to the listed frequency bands, taking into consideration the technology generation, MIMO order, used features (e.g. beam steering) and radio module types (single RAN, separated radio, dual radio band, etc.).

Step 3: Use combiners

Combiners are mainly used to reduce the number of running cables/jumpers and share two, three or four frequency bands/technologies on the same antenna ports. Using combiners will drive the operator to share the same e-tilt setting with all combined branches.

Next go back to the frequency matrix and add your combiners.  By completing this step, the total number of needed RF ports is identified.

Step 4: Check your current network antennas

Check your network inventory, warehouse and installed antennas.  Do your antennas support all mentioned frequency bands or only some of them?  How many antennas are needed to cover all these bands and ports?

Try to have two or three options.  For example:

Option1: new 22ports (6xLB + 8xHB + 8xBeamSteering).
Option2: Using 2 existing antennas: 14ports (6xLB + 8xHB) and 8ports (8xBeamSteering)
Option3: New 6ports antenna (2xLB + 4xHB) with using existing 8ports (4xLB+4xHB) and 8ports (8xBeamSteering).
Step 5: Categorize with tower structures:

Based on your tower structures and their load capability, you will categorize your sites and select the best antenna solution from them.

For example:

New sites: will use new 22ports antenna.
Medium structure sites: 2 existing antennas will be used: 14ports with 8ports antennas.
Heavy duty structures sites: new 6ports with existing 8ports and 8ports (beam steering) antennas will be used.
This should provide a blueprint for deployment.  If you have questions or would like support from CommScope, please get in touch.

Elie Kanakri is CommScope’s technical marketing manager for EMEA and APAC regions. He joined CommScope in 2016, responsible for supporting mobile operators and OEMs to develop and modernize their networks. He has been in the wireless communications domain for more than 14 years. Prior to his current position, Kanakri held various positions in the radio planning and optimization department at Syriatel Mobile Telecom. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Damascus University.

Testing of SAS for CBRS Kicks into High Gear

Earlier this month, companies and vendors from across the wireless industry came together at Verizon’s facility in Irving, Texas to test 4G LTE technology over the CBRS (Citizen Band Radio Spectrum) spectrum.  After the successful initial trials last year, Corning, Ericsson, Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies are all collaborating in end-to-end system testing.

The CBRS band is made up of 150 MHz of 3.5 GHz shared spectrum, which until now has been primarily used by the federal government for radar systems.  The FCC authorized shared use of the spectrum with wireless small cells in 2016.  By using LTE Advanced technology, carrier aggregation and the spectrum access system (SAS), Verizon will be able to use this shared spectrum to add capacity to its network.

The end-to-end system tests are designed to accomplish several goals on the path to widespread commercial deployment:

  • To test and verify the Spectrum Access System algorithms from Google and Federated Wireless are consistently providing the best channel match from the SAS database.
  • To test data rates, modulations and the customer experience using CBRS spectrum.
  • To test interoperability between infrastructure providers to ensure seamless handoffs between CBRS spectrum and licensed spectrum for customers.
  • To test mobility handoffs on the CBRS spectrum.
  • To evaluate performance and data from LTE over CBRS spectrum.
  • For the end-to-end system testing, Federated Wireless and Google are providing prioritization through the SAS, which dynamically prioritizes traffic within the FCC’s spectrum sharing framework for this band.
  • Qualcomm Technologies is providing the Qualcomm Snapdragon LTE modem needed to access LTE on CBRS on mobile devices. Corning, Ericsson and Nokia have provided indoor and outdoor radio solutions which can run on the CBRS Spectrum.

Corning provided a SpiderCloud Enterprise RAN composed of a Services Node and SCRN-330 Radio Nodes. Ericsson’s Radio System solution is comprised of 4×4 MIMO, 4x20MHz Carrier Aggregation, including CBRS spectrum delivered over infrastructure aggregating Ericsson’s outdoor micro base station (Radio 2208 units) with the indoor B48 Radio Dot System in the same baseband (5216 units). Nokia provided FlexiZone Multiband Indoor BTS, FlexiZone Multiband Outdoor BTS and FlexiZone Controller.

In addition, participants in this ecosystem have set up private LTE sites which are using CBRS spectrum.  Private LTE networks are being engineered to meet the needs of enterprise customers who want greater control over their LTE solutions including private on-site servers, control over access to their designated LTE network, as well as increased throughput and reduced latency through dedicated backhaul.

The end-to-end system testing, which began in February and will continue over the next several weeks, has provided actionable insights and have significantly advanced CBRS spectrum deployment feasibility.

“The promise of the CBRS band and enabling the use of wider swaths of spectrum will make a big impact on carrying wireless data in the future.  These trials are critical to stress test the full system,” said Bill Stone, VP technology development and planning for Verizon.  “There are many players in the CBRS ecosystem and these successful trials ensure all the various parts perform together as an end-to-end system for our customers’ benefit.  We want to ensure devices efficiently use CBRS spectrum and that the new components effectively interact with the rest of the network.”

At the conclusion of this testing, equipment will be submitted for certification through the FCC.  Following that deployment can then begin.  Both commercial deployment of LTE on CBRS spectrum and devices that can access the CBRS spectrum are expected to begin in 2018.

CommScope, Ericsson Complete SAS Interoperability Testing for CBRS

To help ensure their readiness for commercial deployment in the CBRS wireless spectrum, CommScope and Ericsson have successfully completed interoperability testing of their equipment. The testing is one of the first successful interoperability tests using the Wireless Innovation Forum’s release 1.2 specifications.

“CommScope’s team of architects, developers and engineers have been building an industry-leading SAS for nearly two years,” said Tom Gravely, vice president of research and development, Network Solutions, CommScope. “Completion of interoperability testing with a major radio equipment provider such as Ericsson validates our SAS design and readies us for commercial deployment.”

The interoperability test confirmed that CommScope’s Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Ericsson’s radio infrastructure with CBRS spectrum support will work together as part of a CBRS network. The rigorous SAS–Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (CBSD) interoperability testing used a battery of scenarios to verify that both products meet governmental requirements and industry protocols, as well as CommScope’s and Ericsson’s respective quality standards.

“Ericsson offers a comprehensive portfolio of CBRS network solutions that will help operators of all sizes deploy in this spectrum quickly and successfully,” said Paul Challoner, vice president of Network Product Solutions, Ericsson. “Additional milestones need to be reached for CBRS to become a reality, but we are pleased to complete interoperability testing with CommScope as part of the developmental process.”

In a CBRS network, a SAS and CBSD work together to ensure that the appropriate wireless signals are transmitted and received between the core network and end-user devices, while managing interference. An Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) works with the SAS to identify the wireless signals of incumbent users to avoid interference from CBSDs. CommScope is one of four ESC operators conditionally approved by the FCC to provide SAS and ESC services.



CommScope, CCI Enter Antenna License Agreements

CommScope has reached an agreement co-owned CCI and CCAI (collectively, CCI) that resolves all litigation between the parties in India and the United States, according to a press release. The litigation relates to advanced base station antenna technologies that enable better performance in wireless networks.

Under the terms of the agreement, CommScope has taken a worldwide license to CCI’s patents concerning asymmetrical twin beam antenna techniques. CCI and its co-owned affiliates have taken worldwide licenses to specific CommScope patents relating to systems for enabling electrical tilt in base station antennas. Both parties recognize the validity, scope and applicability of their relevant patents and fully acknowledge the fundamental principles and techniques underpinning the relevant patents.

CommScope and CCI have made substantial investments in research and development in these areas, and each recognizes the need to protect the patentee’s rights while allowing for appropriate licensing agreements that allow customers to have access to the most up to date technologies at fairly competing sources. This agreement provides freedom of design for their technical teams and should accelerate further research and development while improving their ability to compete in global markets. Further details of the agreement will not be disclosed.

CCI is a network infrastructure innovation company providing mobile operators around the world with cost effective, revenue increasing RF solutions that are rapidly deployable, fit-for-purpose and maximize the use of valuable spectrum and existing network investments.

The Future of Microwave Backhaul Is Smaller

By Adrian Laidlaw

Long haul microwave links typically use large antennas – anywhere from 6 feet to 12 feet in diameter – which creates some significant issues in link design and installation.  The larger the antenna, the greater the wind load on the tower and also the narrower the antenna beam width for a given frequency. This potentially means that towers need to be strengthened and stiffened to allow the antenna to remain aligned or there may be restrictions on where the antenna can be mounted.

New developments in antenna design and technology are leading to increased gain and smaller diameter sizes. Where the ability to install links may be determined by interference rather than simple gain, improved radiation pattern envelopes such as those compliant to ETSI Class 4 can allow smaller antennas to be deployed. Costs can be lower because of basic product costs and from savings in potential tower modifications.

In a world where real estate of all types is becoming more expensive, microwave antennas are no exception. The potential to drop a size bring benefits to operating costs over the lifetime of the link in regards to tower rental costs. Being able to deploy a smaller antenna can lead to savings way beyond the initial purchase price.

One extra positive in using a smaller antenna is happier installation teams. The larger the antenna the more skill, care and attention is need to getting it hoisted up the tower, fitted onto its mounting structure and aligned. The smaller the antenna the easier it is to install. With less time required for assembly, the rigging operation gets done quicker.

Check out CommScope’s next-generation HX and USX long- haul microwave antennas to see what I mean. Both of these antenna families provide considerable improvements in performance over other equivalent products currently being deployed.

Adrian Laidlaw
Adrian Laidlaw is a product line and OEM sales manager for microwave antenna system solutions at CommScope, based in the UK. He previously served for more than 20 years as an area sales manager for Andrew Corporation after working as a project engineer for Marconi. Adrian has a bachelor of arts degree in business management with honors from the University of Lincoln and a degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Manchester Metropolitan University. Copyright CommScope

C-RAN, Virtualization Come to DAS in New In-Building Products

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

A wave of DAS systems for in-building use is making a splash at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, this week, as the wireless industry continues to try to break into the enterprise space. The new products feature all-digital technology and 100-percent fiber optics, as well as virtualization and centralized RANs. The products are also smaller and use less electricity.

Among the OEMs showing off new products are CommScope with its Era all-digital C-RAN antenna system, Zinwave with its UNItivity 5000 DAS solution and JMA Wireless with its XRAN fully-virtualized adaptive baseband software. Additionally, Cobham Wireless has integrated vRAN (virtualized radio access networks) capabilities into its idDAS (intelligent digital DAS).

OEMs are expanding their market from wireless users to include serve the internet of things and smart buildings applications, as well as public safety. But there are many impediments to DAS in the enterprise. One of them being price. The latest wave of DAS equipment is smaller and less expensive. According to Josh Adelson, marketing director, CommScope, DAS is following the same trends occurring in the outdoor wireless space.

“It’s about finding a way to deliver in-building wireless in a way that is consistent with the approach the operators are taking,” Adelson said. “The main technical step forward is allowing the signal source to be located in the operator’s C-RAN rather than in the building.”

DAS OEMs are also taking using virtualization to replicate the features of a proprietary base station in software that is run on a commercially available hardware platform.

CommScope’s Era

CommScope Era is an all-digital C-RAN antenna system that leverages wireless operators’ initiatives to centralize and virtualize baseband radio assets. The centralized headend serves multiple buildings, as well as tapping capacity from existing C-RAN hubs.

“The C-RAN allows an operator to manage a pool of resources within its own facility and allocate them on a dynamic basis, as well as to easily maintain them,” Adelson said. “From the building owner’s point of view, not having the head-end within their facility allows them to lease out the space the headend would have inhabited.”

Era features a new family of access points that are available in a range of power levels, with copper and fiber connectivity and outdoor and plenum ratings, to serve a wide variety of venue types. It supports interleaved MIMO (multiple input/multiple output).

For more information on the Era, CLICK HERE

Zinwave’s UNItivity 5000

Zinwave has enhanced the energy efficiency of the UNItivity solutions’ hardware. Depending on the scope and complexity of the DAS configuration, an enterprise may see up to 17 percent energy savings.

Another update to UNItivity 5000 is the redesign of the secondary hub that adds 80 percent space savings in the IT closet. The streamlined design also integrates the power supply unit into the hub itself, which aids IT staff in procuring an external power supply while providing additional space savings.

“We are driving toward simplicity, improving aesthetics, lower total cost of ownership,” said Slavko Djukic, Zinwave Chief Technology Officer. “When you look at the total cost of ownership model including power usage and space usage, we believe we have made some significant improvements.”

For more information about the UNItivity 5000, CLICK HERE 

JMA Wireless’ XRAN Adaptive Baseband

JMA Wireless has virtualized 100 percent of its RAN with software with the XRAN Adaptive Baseband, which provides all of the RAN functions necessary for LTE mobile and IoT connectivity.

“Full virtualization of the entire stack has been elusive due to the complexity of the technology,” said Joe Madden, president of Mobile Experts. “XRAN has delivered full virtualization and gives operators a more flexible, low-cost platform they can control. This opens the door for MNOs and enterprises – providing an opportunity for enterprises to invest in solutions to provide coverage for their venues.”

The XRAN software platform integrates with the TEKO RF Distribution platform via high capacity digital fiber connectivity, eliminating layers of analog equipment and cabling and reducing the footprint, power and cooling requirements.

“Cost, simplicity, footprint, power, and cooling changes dramatically with XRAN,” said Todd Landry, VP of product and market strategy at JMA Wireless. “XRAN is designed from its inception to close the gap between rapidly growing in-building mobile connectivity demands and today’s complex, proprietary hardware solutions unable to evolve and adapt for multi-operator services.”

For more information about XRAN, CLICK HERE 

Cobham Wireless’ idDAS with vRAN

Cobham Wireless as designed the next generation of the intelligent digital DAS (idDAS) with a direct connection to the network core and virtualized capabilities. The latest idDAS supports both C-RAN architectures and vRAN architectures, replacing baseband units with commercial off-the-shelf technology and virtualized software.

“Operators are facing a capacity challenge, and with more people using high-bandwidth services and the number of IoT applications growing, this will only increase,” said Rami Hasarchi, VP Coverage, Cobham Wireless. “Virtualising the RAN for in-building coverage offers the ideal solution to this problem, maximizing spectrum efficiency and end-user experience, while vastly reducing running costs.”

For more information about the idDAS CLICKE HERE