Feature Article

June 09, 2015

University in Kansas Uses Airvana C-RAN Small Cell Solution in Its Coliseum

A wide variety of equipment suppliers are battling to capture the wireless opportunity in those areas that are not well served by cellular networks. That typically involves deployments in good-sized public venues where shopping, sports, or other activities take place.

One example of an environment of this nature that recently installed a new wireless system in Gross Coliseum at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. The 7,600-seat arena replaced its existing distributed antenna system, which no longer met its capacity and performance requirements, with a solution provided by equipment company Airvana and service provider Nex-Tech Wireless. This is the first publicly announced implementation of the Airvana C-RAN small cell solution.

The new solution, which recently made its debut during FHSU graduation ceremonies, delivers peak download speeds of 66mbps via a 10mHz LTE channel, upload rates in the 16-17mbps range, has a 99.7 percent connection setup success rate, a connection drop rate of just 0.5 percent, and a 100 percent macro handover success rate.

C-RAN technology centralizes the baseband radio processing, explains Josh Adelson, director of product marketing at Airvana. Because it takes most of the baseband processing out of the individual cells and centralizes it, there’s less opportunity for interference. C-RAN is a technology that’s been around for a few years, Adelson adds, but has been used primarily in macro cell environments; Airvana’s solution applies it to small cells.

“We’re the only ones that have applied C-RAN to small cells,” says Adelson.

He adds, “there’s a huge unserved market because in any building of any size small cells don’t work because of the interference issues I told you about.” Airvana, whose sweet spot is mid-market opportunities, addresses that opportunity.

Airvana has a baseband controller that sits in a telecom rack and does allocation of radio timeslots and resources to users in the area. It also has radios with a little bit of baseband processing in them, so instead of having lots of cells that interfere with each other, you essentially have a single cell.

The FHSU deployment leverages two frequency bands to deliver a lot of capacity, and each has a baseband controller and 11 radio points, each of which is about the size of a Wi-Fi router.

The Airvana solution is a good match for companies that already have in-building 3G via DAS solutions or just due to decent 3G building penetration and are looking for more capacity to better support growing bandwidth requirements, Adelson says. Airvana’s C-RAN solution is preferable to upgrading to 4G DAS, he explains, because DAS requires really fast coax cables that are difficult to install and uses macro base stations at the center, so there’s a lot of finicky configuration involved. Airvana’s solution, meanwhile, leverages standard Ethernet LANs, power of Ethernet so there’s no need for separate power for each radio point, and is as simple to manage as Wi-Fi.

As discussed at the top of this story, there are various vendors coming at the in-building opportunity from a variety of angles.  

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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