Feature Article

March 01, 2012

Solving the HetNet Deployments Cost Challenge

By TMCnet Special Guest
Frank Rayal , VP of Product Management BLiNQ Networks

One of the great challenges in wireless networks today is figuring out the most effective solution to backhaul small cell base stations.  Solving this challenge will surely require much ingenuity specifically because any solution must meet very low cost constraints. If we can’t solve the cost challenge, hetnets will not get much traction. In other words, when we speak about hetnets, performance is not the constraint as it is in macro-cells; rather, it is cost that’s the limiting factor.

This is why I see non-line-of-sight backhaul as the solution to the hetnet cost problem. NLOS has the adequate performance to meet hetnets requirements (capacity, latency, form-factor & size, etc.). But more importantly, it has all the necessary features to meet the cost constraint. Let’s look at the why and how by comparing NLOS to other wireless LOS solutions (microwave and E-Band):

1-      Cost of equipment: the cost of equipment in sub 6-GHz bands is the lowest of any wireless solutions for three main reasons: higher integration, larger ecosystem and higher economies of scale, and lower cost silicon technology.

2-      Cost of configuration: NLOS can be deployed in point-to-multipoint which reduces the cost of equipment and, more importantly, the number of points of presence of backhaul to the core network.

3-      Cost of spectrum: Sub-6 GHz spectrum is licensed in blocks at very low prices that are a couple of pennies if not a fraction of a penny per MHz per inhabitant. The block licensing model results in diminishing marginal cost per link, so the cost of deploying NLOS does not increase linearly with the number of links as it does for wireless LOS technologies. Licensed spectrum assures greater reliability.

4-      Cost of planning: NLOS systems are easy to plan since the requirements to establish a link are very relaxed. There is no need for length path surveys associated with LOS wireless solutions.

5-      Cost of deployment: NLOS is deployed quickly using by one installer. Wireless LOS solutions require typically a two-person team. The time spent on site for NLOS can be as short as 15 minutes which eliminate the need for other logistical arrangements associated with deployment on common street furniture (poles, building side walls, etc.) such as traffic blocking and diversion, police presence, etc.

6-      Cost of optimization and maintenance: once installed, wireless LOS systems are fixed to point in a certain direction. Changes in the surrounding area that results in blocking the path severs the link and requires a truck roll to fix, with potentially the need for relay equipment to bridge the connection. This is eliminated in NLOS where systems can re-home to connect quickly to another serving hub.

NLOS wireless is unique among other wireless backhaul solutions in that it possesses the DNA to backhaul small cells. This spans capital and operational expenditures. Taken over the deployment lifetime of five to 10 years, NLOS wireless is the technology that provides the right cost structure to enable hetnet deployments.

Frank brings over 17 years of experience in the wireless industry with a thorough knowledge and experience in access and backhaul technologies. He has defined a line of innovative compact base stations and established strategic alliances at Redline Communications where he led product management for 4G wireless access networks. At Ericsson, Frank worked extensively with mobile network operators to deploy three networks in the Americas, after which he defined sales and market entry strategies at Metawave Communications for a GSM smart antenna system. Frank holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, and a MASc in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Toronto, Canada.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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