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June 2021

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In This Issue

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From The Editor

Be a Good Customer

A good customer makes a profit. A good customer has solid credit. A good customer pays its...
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Smart City Infrastructure

Why Small Cell Towers are the Future of Smart Cities

As we look toward the future, we are looking at a world of connectivity, data and efficien...
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Backhaul

A Dual-band Answer to the Challenges of 5G Backhaul

$2.2 trillion. That is the anticipated value of the 5G wireless communications market by 2...
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Coverage Alternative

Router Provides LTE Coverage When Wi-Fi Is Unavailable

Establishing a contingency plan to recover IT services after an emergency, or system disru...
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Antennas

MIMO Antennas Supply the Muscle Behind 5G Wireless Communications

The muscle behind 5G wireless communications comes from advanced antenna systems, accordin...
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Workforce

Telecom’s Deskless Workforce Needs Deskless Tech

Labor statistics indicate that 80 percent of the global workforce does not work behind a d...
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Radio Access Networks

Outdoor Wireless Network Trends

The telecommunications industry is looking forward to building a future in which connectiv...
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COVID-19

ZenFi Sees New York Wireless Bandwidth Consumption Shift in COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic boosted requests for wireless infrastructure capacity increases in N...
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Diversity in Wireless

ZenFi’s Walter Cannon on the Urban Digital Divide

Walter Cannon is a man of many talents. He is a born salesman — he says he probably came o...
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Site Power

Nokia Confirms 5G as 90 Percent More Energy-efficient

A new study by Nokia and Telefónica has found that 5G wireless communications networks are...
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Research

Umlaut C-band Report Predicts Wireless Industry Enterprise Customer Revenue to Surpass Consumer Revenue on 5G Networks

U.S. wireless carriers’ winning bids of a massive $80+ billion at the recent C-band spectr...
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C-band

Samsung Introduces C-band Network Solutions Portfolio

Samsung Electronics has developed a C-Band network solutions portfolio to help U.S. mobile...
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From The Editor

Be a Good Customer

A good customer makes a profit. A good customer has solid credit. A good customer pays its bills.

The wireless infrastructure business has a reputation for having good customers. Those customers, the wireless carriers, and among them, especially T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, rent a large percentage of the space on telecommunications towers.

Many small wireless carriers serve the public, too. Also, many small and a number of medium-sized tower companies serve the wireless carriers, along with several large tower companies, such as American Tower, Crown Castle International, SBA Communications and Vertical Bridge.

This reaches into the mists of history —at least, into my not-so-clear memory — to recall a representative of a tower company recounting that a carrier complained to him, “How come your company makes more money than we do? It’s not right that we’re your customer, and you make more money than us.”

It reflects the notion that tower companies rent to carrier customers who must have the antenna space to operate their business. Maybe carriers could cut corners in other parts of their business. Reduce promotional expense. Trim the level of customer service. Slow construction. Spend less in spectrum auctions. But fail to pay the antenna space rent? Probably not.

One tower company customer has been in the news, lately, with an admission that mistakes in managing its business weakened the company financially. The large wireless carrier with the financial challenge, AT&T, has been the subject of heightened financial analysis in the months leading up to its announcement of a deal with Discovery, a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav.

A step AT&T announced it would take in mid-2022, subject to governmental approvals, means that AT&T will sell to Discovery an entertainment business AT&T bought a few years ago in hopes that an integration of content creation and content dissemination businesses would lead to greater success. It didn’t. Instead, it led to substantial losses. Nevertheless, Discovery is happy to have the entertainment business — TimeWarner — in hopes that it will help Discovery to compete with Netflix and Disney.

Consider what stock analysts have to say about AT&T. These folks are amazing. Their capacity for research, detailed reporting and drawing conclusions demonstrates the highest level of intelligence. Reports from several of them came my way. The reports come with confidentiality clauses, otherwise perhaps it would be possible to name them — but to be on the safe side, it is better not to name them.

What is so interesting is that, after looking at the same data, some stock analysts have drawn opposite conclusions as to whether the step AT&T is taking to shed TimeWarner and some debt will improve the company’s prospects. In the stock analyst world, that means whether the AT&T share price will rise, remain much as it is, or fall. Each one is mostly certain, yet they cannot all be right.

For some analysts, the competition among AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile represents a race to the bottom — that no business strategy open to them would lead them to growing their profits enough to impress or, possibly, even to meet expectations. That’s a dismal assessment; however, one analyst concluded that AT&T faces less of a challenge without TimeWarner, and so raised its prediction for the company’s share price. Something of a lone wolf, that one.

Take some reassurance that despite the difficulties wireless carriers may have in growing their profits, they remain good bill-payers. Creditworthy. Good customers.

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Smart City Infrastructure

Why Small Cell Towers are the Future of Smart Cities

Smart cities are built to enhance urban life and reduce the hassles of city living. Small cells are the key piece of infrastructure that will allow new technological advances to work.

As we look toward the future, we are looking at a world of connectivity, data and efficiency, with smart cities being the future for urban areas. At its core, a smart city uses devices and sensors to track and analyze data in real time to better suit a community's needs by improving its operations and managing resources more efficiently. This connectivity facilitates improved traffic, better management and tracking of public transportation, monitoring of utilities usage and needs, autonomous vehicle connection, safety and more. The information collected can be shared among other devices and sensors, government agencies, citizens and personal devices.

  • Improve traffic – Sensors track and monitor cars, pedestrians and weather to maintain a consistent traffic flow effectively. They also track available parking and relay that information back to an app, letting users know exactly where parking is available. Residents would not have to circle the city or parking lots to find an open space, reducing the energy use and the traffic congestion.
  • Public transportation – Passengers can obtain real-time information on where buses and trains are located, routes, traffic and estimated times of arrival (ETAs). No more rushing and guessing, but knowing; not having to come 30 minutes early and wait in the rain, but having the time to pick up a quick cup of coffee and still make the train.
  • Monitor utilities – Sensors can detect activity and dim or adjust lights according to conditions, pedestrian proximity and traffic, rather than staying on at all times. This reduces light pollution and makes a city’s power usage more cost-efficient.
  • Autonomous vehicle connection – In addition to GPS, radar and advanced communications, connectivity is making the roads safer, less congested and more efficient. Imagine a traffic pattern formulated by precise data, physics and math, rather than current unpredictable and unreliable variables including human emotions, reaction time and distractions. Not only does this allow for a more efficient traffic pattern, but it would significantly reduce the number of accidents. The ability to know the traffic conditions ahead, weather, an accident, something obstructing the road or conditions that the human eye cannot see or predict, will be critical for increasing safety on the roads.
  • Safety – Improved video surveillance, gunshot detection and other real-time data that could be sent to first responders will improve reaction times by pinpointing the exact location of an incident. When someone is harmed or hurt and cannot call for help on their own, these detections can alert and dispatch first responders, instantly sending the lifesaving help someone might need.

Why Current Connectivity Infrastructure Won’t Cut It

Our current wireless infrastructure was developed for 4G and LTE devices and connections. These radio frequencies were built to travel far, not fast. The towers are tall and are spread apart, and they can transfer data from a distance. These facilities worked great when the majority of users were making phone calls, performing the occasional Google search or sending email on the go. However, the way we use our connected devices has dramatically changed. Take those frequencies and multiply the number of devices running off these towers, and the network is now overwhelmed with demand and the need for faster connection speeds. Consumers are now using multiple devices far more than ever. Each consumer may have three or four devices that all use connectivity at one time; phone, tablet, smart watch, hot spots, etc. Video calling, streaming music and media, tracking steps or health, directions and maps, weather and more. Our community alone has increased the demand for a better wireless solution, and adding more devices for smart cities will escalate that need even further.

Small Cell Technology Is Key for the Future of Smart Cities

Information communication technology (ICT) is essentially a network of objects and devices that transmit data via wireless technology. With more devices, sensors and objects needing this instant connectivity, networks need a solution to handle the increasing demand. For these ICTs to work efficiently, the new networks need to be able to handle the increased bandwidth, while still being extremely fast and reliable. That's where small cell technology comes in.

Small cells are a critical part of our wireless network and are made up of nodes connected via fiber back to the macro towers. The wired connection allows them to carry data 30 to 50 times faster than 4G with sub-millisecond latencies, which is essential for connected devices to communicate with each other and relay information in real time. Each small cell can carry the same amount of data as a macro cell tower, but because they cover a smaller geographic area, they can handle the increasing demand and variety of devices transmitting data through it. Each small cell's coverage can be anywhere between one-tenth of a mile to two miles per node. Small cells are relatively tiny in comparison to macro towers and can be installed nearly anywhere – utility poles, rooftops of buildings, steeples of churches and more. This allows for connectivity to be inconspicuous and keep the aesthetic value of the city's infrastructure.

Challenges of Implementing Small Cell Technology

Hurdles remain to be overcome for this network build-out to be accomplished in a timely manner. Every city's jurisdiction has its own regulations that can cause delays in deployment. On average, 75 percent of the build-out process is spent on planning, jurisdiction requirements and approvals. Efficient build-out strategies are vital in order for our communities to gain the benefits of a better connection. One of the ways we can accomplish this is by working with experts in the communications industry to better understand the new technology, its benefits and the opportunities it will provide, and how we can streamline the process to make it a reality in our communities. It is important for the leaders of our communities to understand how our technology works to fully understand how it can better serve future and new innovations.

Smart cities are built to enhance urban life and reduce the hassles of city living. Without these small cell nodes in place, smart cities are still just an idea. Small cells are the key piece of infrastructure that will allow new technological advances to work, kicking off the next industrial revolution.

Dan Leaf, CEO and president at Leaf Communications, is an Air Force veteran with over 22 years of experience in the communications industry. During his career, Leaf has become an expert in wireless infrastructure, successfully building and managing companies that provide unparalleled service to their clients. Leaf has worked with Fortune 500 companies, fire marshals and all major carriers to provide small cell deployment, 5G integration, first-responder systems (ERRCS), site acquisition real-estate services, architecture and engineering, and complete project management and construction services. The broad range of functions that Leaf and his team provide are what give them a holistic approach and expert experience in wireless infrastructure and communication technology.

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Backhaul

A Dual-band Answer to the Challenges of 5G Backhaul

The latest antenna technologies combine multiple bands in a single antenna to offer ultra-high capacity comparable with traditional fiber options.

$2.2 trillion. That is the anticipated value of the 5G wireless communications market by 2034, according to research from GSM Association, a membership organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. It is a huge opportunity to make significant headway on the economic recovery that is essential in a post-COVID world. However, the vision and market value of 5G is absolutely contingent on having the right infrastructure in place to support it.

Take a state-of-the-art F1 (Formula One) racecar — a feat of precision engineering with top speeds of 246 mph and recognized as the fastest cars in the world. Put it on a dirt track, and that 246mph is nothing but theory. 5G wireless communications faces the same conundrum: Without a solid infrastructure, the theoretical vision and the associated benefits remain completely hypothetical.

Reliable backhaul is an absolutely critical part of that solid infrastructure, and so one of the big challenges that operators face is how to deliver robust backhaul that marries the necessary capacity, coverage and reliability to let 5G reach its promised potential.

THE CHALLENGE

Backhaul of the Future

Backhaul forms the backbone of 5G. Many of the 5G applications that hold the most promise not only need the enhanced speeds associated with the next generation of mobile connectivity, but also increased reliability. Take the classic example of connected cars. To be able to truly support this application and reap potential returns, there can be no risk of a delayed or interrupted connection. It makes the technology unsafe and, thus, commercially unviable.

This is why the backhaul solutions that operators put in place must not only maintain a strong, consistent backhaul connection, but also they must be robust and reliable, with a fail-safe to stop any problems from affecting the end user.

This is what sets the 5G backhaul challenge apart from previous generations. It must not only deliver higher speeds and greater capacity, but also incorporate enhanced reliability, at a viable price point for mass roll out, without hugely increasing the site footprint. Not much to ask.

Not All Backhaul Challenges Are Created Equal

So far, we have looked at the universal challenges of 5G backhaul, but depending on the environment, the requirements differ slightly, and this changes the backhauling needs (see Table 1).

The challenges of 5G backhaulsThe challenges of 5G backhauls, sorted by environment.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of 5G backhaul, so the question for operators is how do they design infrastructure that meets the variety of needs in a way that is reliable and delivers a 5G network that is fit for purpose?

Fiber versus Microwave

The two options operators have for backhaul are fiber and microwave, and they must weigh up the pros and cons of each solution to work out which is the most suitable for 5G networks.

Traditionally, fiber would be the go-to option for backhaul; however, it is not without its drawbacks. It requires a high capital expense (capex) expenditure — it is an expensive solution that is slow to roll out and that requires a significant amount of labor to deploy.

Microwave has always had a question mark over its suitability for backhaul because of concerns about coverage range and reliability. However, developments in microwave technology are rapidly overcoming its traditional drawbacks, particularly given the advent of dual-band solutions.

THE ADVANTAGES OF A DUAL-BAND APPROACH

Dual-band microwave systems make microwave a real-world, viable option when it comes to 5G backhaul. They incorporate the latest antenna technologies that combine multiple bands in a single antenna to offer ultra-high capacity that is now comparable to traditional fiber options. The result is that mobile operators can backhaul higher volumes of 5G traffic much farther than previously was possible, and with a number of additional benefits.

Site Footprint

One of the biggest challenges facing operators as they look to 5G rollouts is site footprint. They must deliver significantly greater capacity, for an entirely new network generation, without significantly increasing their site footprint.

By consolidating multiple bands into a single antenna, operators can deliver the network capabilities that 5G requires without having to incur the additional costs and potential problems associated with expanding their site.

The financial benefits for operators are twofold. They lower their capex costs, as less equipment is required as each antenna is working harder. Additionally, they can avoid significantly increasing the operating expense (opex) costs associated with expanding their site footprint. Figure 1 shows the cost saving operators can see over a 10- year period by choosing a dual-band link over two single band links. The total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced by 13 percent in year one and 25 percent by year five.

Dual-band versus single-bandDual-band versus single-band links reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) over a 10-year period by 13 percent in year one and 25 percent by year five.

Greater Capacity

The dual-band approach means a single antenna can deliver higher capacity than in single band. The new dual microwave band antennas double or quadruple the capacity, depending on its polarization. This is a critical advantage for 5G where capacity is king.

By investing in equipment that works harder, operators are able to deliver a 5G service that is able to deliver on the vision for technology that has been promised over the past five years.

For operators making huge investments in 5G, they must be able to see that the 5G service they offer meets the needs of potential applications. It is only by doing this that they will be able to ensure that they see a real return on investment for 5G.

Reliability

Alongside the benefit of increased capacity, by integrating two bands into a single solution, dual-band technology offers its customers a higher level of reliability, as it has an inbuilt fail-safe. If there is a temporary problem with one band, there is no down time because the other band continues to function. This is a crucial benefit for operators as they look to convince customers that their 5G networks can support connectivity critical applications such as connected cars or Healthcare IoT.

TECHNICAL DEEP DIVE

Taking a dual-band approach offers clear benefits to operators looking for a backhaul solution suitable for 5G deployments. However, not all environments have the same requirements when it comes to backhaul. This is why RFS has developed an extensive portfolio of dual-band antenna solutions to suit every environment.

Urban Areas: E-band +

To suit urban environments with a high concentration of users, RFS offers a dual-band option that incorporates ultra-high-capacity E-band with an additional medium band such as 15 GHz, 18 GHz or 23 GHz.

By combining the high throughput of E-band frequencies with the broader coverage of microwave frequency bands, RFS antennas can create a wireless backhaul offering suitable for 5G networks. The E-Band + solution can be used to replace existing 2-foot single-band links, giving significantly enhanced backhaul performance without affecting site costs.

As shown in Figure 2, E-band alone typically supports around 5 Gbps over 4 kilometers. It is perfect from a capacity perspective, but it lacks the distance required to make this a commercially viable solution. By integrating a second, medium-frequency band, a dual-band antenna can support larger volumes of 5G traffic over longer distances with lower latency than fiber-based backhaul solutions. This RFS solution delivers 10 Gbps over longer distances, making it perfect to support 5G deployments in dense urban environments.

E-bandE-band alone typically supports around 5 Gbps over 4 kilometers. It is perfect from a capacity perspective, but it lacks the distance required to make this a commercially viable solution.

Rural and Suburban: 6 + 11 GHz

The E-band solution, although perfect in city deployments, is not able to deliver the range of coverage needed to suit suburban and rural deployments. Operators would need to install greater volumes of equipment to cover vast areas, which is not economically viable. To address this, RFS has developed a second offering that delivers the same benefits of a dual-band solution, but using frequencies better suited to non-urban environments.

The new TowerBooster solution is ideal for new long-haul microwave installations and as replacements for single-band antennas. It takes the same form factor as existing 6-foot to 12-foot microwave antennas, so it can replace existing infrastructure without escalating site costs.

It supports both horizontal and vertical polarization in each band, allowing the capacity to be doubled, compared with single-band, dual-polarized microwave antennas, or quadrupled, in comparison with single-band, single-polarized equipment.

Beyond the increased capacity, by using multiple bands, operators benefit from an increasingly reliable and robust microwave backhaul solution that serves the rural and suburban environments.

Technical Specification Including

  • Provides ETSI Class 3 ultra-high performance
  • Meet FCC Part 101 Cat A standards in the 6 and 11 GHz bands
  • Feature high cross-polarization discrimination (XPD) between the two bands to support high- capacity cross-polarization interference cancellation (XPIC) and co-channel dual-polarization (CCDP) applications
  • Maximize the effects of link diversity in a single antenna to mitigate multipath fading on long- distance links and to increase link quality and availability
  • Incorporate RFS structural design features to achieve outstanding mechanical reliability

All solutions are available in both standard and high-wind, high-ice configurations for reliable operation in severe environment and climate conditions, making microwave backhaul for 5G viable everywhere.

5G EVERYWHERE – USE CASES

By having multiple dual-band solutions to suit different environments, RFS is able to deliver reliable, robust 5G backhaul solutions in virtually any environment, for a wide range of use cases.

Smart Cities – Technology: E-band + Solution

One of the huge selling points of 5G is the enablement of smart cities. The promise of a wide range of real-time safety applications, better management of utilities and smart transportation make it a hugely appealing proposition for operators looking to drive new revenue streams. However, the vast number of sensors and connected devices needed to make this a reality, need a backhaul system that can support a huge surge in demand for high-speed connections. The E-band + solution can help operators meet this need and deliver enhanced, reliable connectivity in a city environment.

Connected Wind Farms – Technology: TowerBooster

As the world strives for sustainability, wind power has grown exponentially. As this trend continues, there is an opportunity for energy providers to improve efficiency by taking advantage of 5G technology for connected turbines. These provide actionable insights to improve efficiency, but to deliver, 5G must extend to the rural areas that are most often home to wind farms. By extending coverage out to rural areas and ensuring 5G infrastructure that is capable of supporting reliable and real-time updates, operators are able to support this rapidly growing industry. The TowerBooster solution, which is available in high-wind, high-ice configurations, can deliver cost-effective, reliable backhaul in rural environments to support this, and many other potential 5G use cases.

Manufacturing – Technology: TowerBooster

The 5G industrial IoT (IIoT) market is anticipated to be worth $15.7 billion by 2026, according to recent research from Markets and Markets. However, to achieve this potential, 5G cannot be restricted to cities, because many manufacturing facilities are located in more rural environments. This represents a huge incentive for operators to expand the reach of 5G to extend to areas where manufacturers can take advantage of 5G to power IIoT applications that deliver tangible benefits for their business. To be able to support these applications, operators need to be able to offer businesses high-capacity, reliable 5G connections. The TowerBooster solution takes care of the backhaul element of this infrastructure in a way that is efficient and easy to install, delivering the optimum performance needed without compromise.

5G APPLICATION: ENHANCED SPORTS VIEWING

One of the use cases expected to generate a rapid return on investment for operators’ investments in 5G is sport viewing. Even in a year with minimal live sport, U.S. over-the-top (OTT) provider FuboTV saw a monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) of $54.79. It is an industry where users have shown time and time again that they are prepared to pay for premium services, presenting a great opportunity for operators that can deliver.

In-stadium Deployments – Technology: E-band +

It is not news that data consumption in sports venues surges during matches as viewers crave an ever more interactive experience. By offering the infrastructure to support data surges with the E-band + solution, operators can deliver the connectivity that sports fans are demanding.

Enhanced Home Viewing – Technology: TowerBooster

OTT providers are already touting augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) options to enhance the sports viewing experiences. With great experience comes great data consumption, and this is where having a high-capacity, reliable 5G network becomes critical. With the TowerBooster solution, RFS can help offer this in all environments, without skyrocketing investment costs that make it impractical.

CONCLUSION

5G does offer significant revenue opportunities for operators, but only if the infrastructure is in place to consistently and reliably support them. Operators need to deliver unequivocal connectivity, and dual-band solutions offer a smart solution to this challenge. By diversifying frequencies, they can offer enhanced reliability of connectivity, as well as increased capacity. By using a consolidated form factor, they can avoid escalating tower costs and minimize the visual effect of 5G.

For 5G to see its full potential and start delivering ROI for operators, it cannot be limited in its coverage. Because of the range of dual-band solutions available from RFS, robust and reliable backhaul can now be delivered in any environment. This is a critical step forward to ensure that all promised applications for 5G are capitalized on and in turn that the industry looks back on 5G as a commercial success.

The three authors, Emmanuel Saint Dizier, Benoit Bled and Benjamin Gao, are with Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), a designer and manufacturer of cable, antenna and tower systems, plus active and passive RF conditioning modules. Emmanuel Saint Dizier is vice president of microwave antenna solutions. Benoit Bled is global product line manager of microwave antenna solutions. Benjamin Gao is product line manager of microwave antenna solutions. RFS is represented on six continents. North American readers should contact RFS via the company’s global product and marketing communication manager, Paula Mennone-Preisner, at [email protected].

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Coverage Alternative

Router Provides LTE Coverage When Wi-Fi Is Unavailable

When the power goes down, so does the Wi-Fi. Cellular systems, however, keep working. A case study about Winning Strategies’ new stand-alone multi-power-source wireless surveillance system.

Establishing a contingency plan to recover IT services after an emergency, or system disruption, is a critical step in the network design process. IT systems are vulnerable to a variety of interruptions that range from short-term power outages to severe natural disasters that can devastate communications for several days. In some cases, critical resources such as electric power or telecommunications might be outside of an organization's ability to control uptime.

When critical network data needs to flow during a system disruption, an established fallback network can provide redundancy to keep a business running for the duration of any outage. Recently, a large construction and engineering firm needed to rethink its security contingency plan when damage from Hurricane Laura disabled its video surveillance system.

The construction firm contracted the network engineers at Winning Strategies to design a stand-alone multiple-power-source wireless surveillance system to withstand future outages. John Gayeski, a director at Winning Strategies, explained that installing a reliable security surveillance system is not as simple as buying a bunch of cameras and connecting them to Wi-Fi. When the power goes down, so does the Wi-Fi, he said. However, according to Gayeski, cellular systems keep working when the power is out.

The location of the installed system is quite large. Some areas primarily use Wi-Fi, and other areas are remote and rely solely on cellular network connectivity. To ensure captured security footage is transmitted reliably at all times, Winning Strategies sourced Perle IRG5521 LTE routers.

“The Perle routers fit the bill,” Gayeski said. “Other manufacturers offered either Wi-Fi or cellular routing, but not both, which was critical in this redundant solution design.”

Perle model IRG5521 LTE router.Perle model IRG5521 LTE router.

In most locations, the IRG5521 LTE router would provide primary connectivity over Wi-Fi with automatic failover to back-up LTE coverage during power outages. In the remote locations where Wi-Fi is unavailable, the same IRG55521 LTE router would provide LTE coverage as the primary connectivity method. The ability to use the same product in both installation scenarios provided flexibility and efficiency.

The solution was rolled out using solar cabinet enclosures with back-up batteries. The IRG5521 routers suited the environment because they are designed to operate on limited power sources by consuming less than 1 watt in idle mode. Also, standby mode can be used to protect power sources by dropping power consumption to a target of 53 mW. This mode can be triggered by timers, low voltage detection or I/O.

LTE and Wi-Fi network diagramThe LTE and Wi-Fi network diagram.

Although it may be impossible to eliminate all risks, with proper contingency planning, many vulnerabilities can be minimized or eliminated through technical, management or operational solutions in an organization's risk management effort. With multiple back-up power sources and multiple network connectivity failover paths, the construction firm can now rest assured that its surveillance system should withstand any future system disruptions.

John Feeney is chief operating officer at Perle Systems. Visit Perle Systems’ website at www.perle.com.

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Antennas

MIMO Antennas Supply the Muscle Behind 5G Wireless Communications

An active antenna system or massive MIMO radio gives two times to three times the capacity of the classic, existing radio types. It is a massive improvement in performance.

The muscle behind 5G wireless communications comes from advanced antenna systems, according to Paul Challoner, vice president of network product solutions for Ericsson North America. Specifically, multiple-input multiple output (MIMO) active antenna systems (AAS) for the 2.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz or 3.7 GHz C-band are going to be highly important, he said.

“We’re on the next generation of MIMO radios, so we have to pack a lot into MIMO radios; there’s a lot of antennas,” Challoner said. “In this case, we’re saying 64 transmit, 64 receive, all in the same physical unit. In this generation, we have made a jump forward. We have taken 40 percent of the weight out, and maybe equally as important, 20 percent of the power consumption, delivering that in a leading class of capacity performance in a radio unit. When we talk about physical space, weight and wind loading, this next generation is going to make a difference in deployment.

Challoner spoke at the April AGL Virtual Summit session, “5G MIMO Antennas Are Taking Off, but Is There Room on the Tower?”

The Ericsson executive said that the company has existing generations of equipment that it is deploying now and that address challenges involving the number of antenna positions on sites, making sure that wind load loading and structural calculations fit the sites. Although in Challoner’s view, Ericsson is having a good success rate with its current MIMO generation, he said the company sees the next generation of equipment to be a good evolution that will make it easier for carrier customers to deploy.

Session host Earl Lum of EJL Research asked Challoner whether Ericsson has a complete portfolio end-to-end to meet the carrier requirements on a macro cell tower, stealth tower, rooftop or small cells on poles. Challenor said the challenge lies in frequency variants in the United States.

“For each of those frequency variants, we have different radio types,” he said. “Then, we would have many classic radios to transmit to receive, for instance, 16, 32 and 64. Some of those have different power levels or high power levels. Some of those are optimized for tower mount, some for roof and pole mount, and of course not forgetting the indoor portfolio. So, we actually have in the portfolio hundreds of radios that cover these different deployment scenarios.”

The focus at Ericsson today, Challoner said, is on frequency-diverse arrays (FDAs), the massive MIMO portfolio, “because that really gives us the muscle, this capacity that we’re trying to add to 5G right now. We see that 64T 64R radios will be the weapon of choice for deployment. The incremental price performance of those radios gives compared with a classic radio is significant. An active antenna system or massive MIMO radio gives you two times to three times the capacity of the classic, existing radio types. It is a massive improvement in performance. We want to use that, maybe not everywhere, and it is a little bit band-specific, but certainly as we look at these new mid-bands, that for mid-band time-division duplexing (TDD), the AAS is the way to go. We think that the 64T is a good modifier.”

Lum turned the conversation to electrical power consumption at antenna sites. The 64T 64R massive MIMO antennas consume about 1,500 watts maximum, and Lum said many regions in the United States will require battery backup power because of hurricanes and other adverse weather conditions along the East Coast and elsewhere. He asked Challoner whether Ericsson has a way to address what operators need for battery backup power.

“We see the power solution as an end-to-end problem statement,” Challoner said. “We have a set of rectifiers, typically, in the base station site. Either we can add rectifiers, or we have done a lot of pre-planning for this kind of event to make sure we pre-populated as much of those types of equipment as possible. We can either add rectifiers or use the rectifier technologies that we have now. We have 98 percent efficient versus 96 percent; thus, you can improve the rectifier piece.”

Next, Challoner said, comes a battery. “Battery management is important,” he said. Lithium-ion technology may be something that can be introduced at the same time. Smart management of the battery in the battery-life cycle is important.”

Another important factor Challoner mentioned is the electrical conductor from the ground to the tower and the management of the cable booster technology.

“What’s even more important than that is how you manage the power consumption of the radio,” he said. “We apply lots of smart software now. We have artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to optimize the way these different radios — maybe we have seven different bands or multiple different radios up the tower — work together, making sure we don’t have peak power draw across all of these radios at the same time. Plus, we also switch off radio capability that we don’t need in the middle of the night. It’s all about smart management of the radios with software, together with this end-to-end management from utility power to radio software.”

With each new generation of the radio, Challoner said, Ericsson improves the power amplifier efficiency, and that determines the power draw of the site. He said the answer is how efficient the power amplifier is in turning DC power into RF power.

“It’s a huge challenge from a green perspective, as well, to make sure that our sites are as efficient as possible,” he said. “Typically, we’re going from an average of 10 kilowatts and, as you add multiples of these MIMO technologies, you may be going up to the 12-kilowatt to 15-kilowatt level. We have to manage that in the most cost-effective way and in the most environmentally friendly way.

As for the use of omnidirectional antennas, Challoner said they have limited applicability. He said MIMO solutions do not need omnis, and even many small cells have integrated antennas that do not need omnis. Some canister antennas are directional, he said, “so you have fairly limited opportunities for omnis.”

For 64 x 64 MIMO antennas, Challoner said that because of their size, he expects them first to go onto towers because of the real estate required. He said there are some applications or some ways in which they could go into the street level.

“One of the new trends is to balance the macro layer, which is on towers, with a street layer,” he said. “Thus, we are seeing massive MIMO antennas in the high-band in millimeter-wave; we have massive MIMO solutions there, and then we’ll see mid-band at the street level as well, with massive MIMO capabilities.”

Asked whether 4 x 4 MIMO could achieve 5G speeds and latency goals, or does the MIMO number need to be higher, Challoner said that meeting the multi-gigabit promise of 5G requires a large amount of radio bandwidth, such as the mid band deployment, which has 100 megahertz or more of bandwidth.

“Typically, to make the most of that kind of bandwidth we use massive MIMO,” Challoner said. “For the capacity layer, you definitely need that AAS type of technology. There are some applications, maybe in the small cell environment, in the rural environment, where the 4T 4R capabilities would still be used, but you do not typically get to the multi-gigabit level with those solutions. If you want blazing fast speeds, you need to go to the massive MIMO with a decent amount of deployed bandwidth.”

Total Tech sponsors of the April AGL Virtual Summit included Raycap, Valmont Site Pro 1, Vertical Bridge and B+T Group. The Top Tech sponsor was Aurora Insight. Additional sponsors included NATE, Voltserver, WIA and Gap Wireless. The next AGL Virtual Summit is scheduled for June 8 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The Summit is free to attend; register here.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher.

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Workforce

Telecom’s Deskless Workforce Needs Deskless Tech

In a world already primed for economies that thrive on mobility, telecommunications industry employers need to supercharge their deskless initiatives to remain relevant.

Labor statistics indicate that 80 percent of the global workforce does not work behind a desk. That is roughly 2.7 billion workers, which include technicians, field engineers, construction professionals, drivers, equipment operators and frontline medical workers, to name a few.

Most of these workers are technologically unequipped. Employers tend to provide field workers with desk-bound tools and applications, which are not suitable to the nature of the work that requires them to be mobile.

The telecommunications industry should take this statistic seriously, because it represents one of the leading sectors that employ deskless workers. In the United States alone, telecommunications organizations employ almost 700,000 deskless workers. The majority of these workers are installers, technicians and maintenance personnel who monitor telecommunications infrastructure and facilities.

Despite having such a large workforce, the telecommunications sector is among industries whose deskless technology initiatives have lagged significantly. It is a massive oversight, particularly in today’s business models. The question is, How can telco companies keep up with the times?

Desk-Based Tech: Not a Perfect Fit in Telecom Field Work

Consumers are more demanding and discerning. They expect telco operators to provide them with a 99 percent uptime guarantee or better.

To meet that expectation, telco companies need to have field teams that consist of engineers, technicians, installers and drivers. These workers are given tasks to monitor and maintain network infrastructure, cell towers and fiber-optic cables.

New telco customers demand quick installation of their services as well as rapid response from field technicians and installers if something goes wrong. It is normal for telecommunications infrastructure to suffer performance and connectivity issues from time to time. To ensure continuous service stability, it is important for field technicians and engineers to quickly identify sites or facilities that are experiencing issues, so they could immediately deploy and address the matter.

Equipped with office-based solutions and outdated communications devices, telco workers struggle to be efficient in the field. Manual gathering of data can lead to erroneous reports, which, in turn, are submitted back to the office, long after the site visit. Delays in receiving instructions from office dispatch can lead to slower resolutions and dissatisfied customers.

The Power of Going Deskless

By fully integrating deskless technology with their field workforce, telco businesses can fully digitize their manual processes. They can also start tracking fieldwork progress and monitor facilities more efficiently. Both employers and employees access real-time information, allowing them to make strategic decisions on the field, such as assigning new tasks to a team or mapping out the shortest possible routes to the site.

Offline capability allows telecom field workers to use their mobile applications to gather data, create reports and submit photos and videos for documentation. Updates are automatically synced with the company database once they are reconnected back to their network.

Mobile-native work apps for field teams make it easy to communicate and collaborate while on the road. Even with complex issues, technicians and engineers can easily connect with other workers. This will lead to faster resolution, reliable internet connectivity and continuous delivery of services.

Deskless apps and tools enable field workers to link with their office-based colleagues from their mobile devices. Submitting reports right from the site and in real time allows management to quickly process data and provide additional instructions. Technicians can add images and videos to their report that can be used for training and audit purposes.

Deskless solutions help telecommunication field teams shorten their travel time to the site and quickly start maintenance and repairs. With their turnaround time (TAT) drastically shortened, overall mean time to repair (MTTR) is significantly expedited, resulting in SLA-level availability and performance to their customers.

Deskless Tech Gains

When employees are provided with the right tools, not only do they become more effective and productive, but their engagement and satisfaction scores go up as well.

A majority of deskless employees believe that communication needs a major overhaul. Nearly 83 percent of frontline workers are not supplied with their own corporate email account. In addition, 45 percent of non-desk workers do not have intranet access, even during working hours.

When deskless workers struggle to get in touch with their team or find it difficult to access crucial business information, they tend to feel disengaged and disconnected.

That is why it is not surprising that 80 percent of deskless workers lack a sense of belongingness with their employers. Organizations with disconnected and disengaged employees suffer from poor productivity scores and high employee turnover.

Dedicated deskless tech can change that, because 70 percent of non-desk workers say that they will perform better if supplied with the right tools for the job. In addition, 78 percent said that technology would be a major deciding factor in choosing and sticking with an employer.

Improved Compliance and Accountability

Compliance and accountability of deskless workers are also affected with the rise of deskless, and mobile-based technology. Field workers are encouraged to stick to their workflows, minimizing instances of noncompliance.

Office-based managers and supervisors are able to access their field workers' accounts in real time, enabling them to track their progress and ensure their work is up to standard.

Such accessibility makes it easy for the management to paint a clear picture of all the work done in the field. This allows them to review and audit everyone's performance based on actual data.

It Is Time for Deskless Employees to Go Deskless

The telecommunications sector has one of the largest deskless workforces; thus, it is more efficient for them to prioritize investing in deskless technology by including it in their modernization initiatives.

Approximately 75 percent of deskless employees said they require technology to perform their tasks, according to a 2020 study. With the continuing increase of remote work, it looks like it is here to stay. By adding social distancing guidelines to the mix, reliance on technology has grown exponentially over the past year.

Unfortunately, 83 percent are issued laptops or desktops, less than ideal if you factor in the mobile nature of their professions. Employers provide only 60 percent of non-desk workers with a smartphone or tablet.

On the bright side, deskless tech investments have been increasing. However, in the world that is already primed for economies that thrive on mobility, they need to supercharge their deskless initiatives if they want to remain relevant.

Rahul Tiwari is executive vice president and managing director at goDeskless in Dublin, California. Visit www.godeskless.com.

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Radio Access Networks

Outdoor Wireless Network Trends

The telecommunications industry is looking forward to building a better future in which connectivity is truly ubiquitous and accessible for all.

The telecommunications industry is looking forward to building a future in which connectivity is truly ubiquitous and accessible for all. To help achieve this goal, operators will continue to accelerate their rollouts of 5G networks across the globe in 2021, while governments clear additional spectrum to accommodate more users and data. Concurrently, disaggregation of the radio access network (RAN) will continue as Open RAN deployments gain serious traction and usher in a new generation of products and innovative technology. Let’s take a closer look at these three trends.

5G and Massive MIMO

Although the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns have noticeably affected the global deployment of 5G networks in certain countries and regions, rollouts will continue apace in 2021 as 5G smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 and Apple’s iPhone 12 hit the market. To support these new devices, we expect operators to focus on pragmatic implementations of 5G networks by assessing which deployments can benefit from active massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) deployments.

Massive MIMO substantially increases spectral efficiency to deliver more network capacity and wider coverage. However, operators will have to determine if the extra costs and real-world power requirements associated with active MIMO deployments are justified, or if a passive antenna configuration will suffice. Indeed, initial higher-end massive MIMO deployments in certain geographic locations have reportedly struggled to keep up with power demands and are routinely shut down for hours at a time to conserve energy.

From our perspective, massive MIMO deployments are optimally suited for dense urban deployments, while suburban deployments can benefit from passive antenna solutions. However, massive MIMO deployments face challenges even in urban environments, where upper floors of tall buildings may not be adequately covered if the most appropriate solution isn’t selected.

Choosing the optimal antenna technology for each deployment will therefore be a priority for mobile network operators (MNOs) in 2021. For high data traffic, operators will look toward 64T64R for dense urban high-rises, 32T32R for urban low-rise structures, 32T32R or 16T16R for suburban locations, and 32T32R (fixed wireless access, or FWA) for rural areas. For sites with moderate traffic requirements, MNOs will deploy 8T8R solutions to adequately cover urban low-rise buildings, as well as suburban and rural areas.

Clearing the Spectrum

To accommodate more users and data, clearing the spectrum is essential to building a future in which connectivity is truly ubiquitous and accessible for all. However, most of the low- and mid-band spectrum across the globe has historically been used by the military, commercial satellite operators, wireless internet service providers (WISPs) and utilities. Efforts to repurpose or share these bands for next-generation services typically require the active involvement of incumbent users and government regulators, as well as extensive discussions about mitigating the effect upon existing services.

Despite these challenges, we expect governments in 2021 to continue taking the initiative to clear the spectrum for 5G and beyond. In the United States, for example, the FCC auctioned Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3.5-GHz band and will auction 280 megahertz of mid-band (C-band) spectrum for flexible use (including 5G) within the 3.7-GHz to 3.98-GHz portion of the band. With regard to the latter, operators will continue scoping out sites during 2021, with the first use of C-band slated to begin in late 2021 or early 2022 in urban areas. For many suburban locales, C-band won’t be accessible to MNOs and their subscribers until June 2023. In addition to CBRS and C-band, 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum in the 3450-MHz to 3550-MHz band is planned to be made available for 5G over the next 18 months.

In the Caribbean and Latin America (CALA), Colombia and Puerto Rico recently completed a number of spectrum auctions. In 2021 and beyond, Colombia will be rolling out a low-band LTE network to serve rural areas, while the CBRS auction in Puerto Rico will enable MNOs and WISPs to deploy additional LTE networks. As well, Chile recently announced the start of a new 5G spectrum auction, with a total of 1800 megahertz distributed across four bands: 700-MHz, AWS, 3.5-GHz, and millimeter-wave (in 26 GHz).

Additional auctions across CALA may kick off faster than initially anticipated in 2021. This is because spectrum auctions are a lucrative source of revenue for governments struggling with the economic fallout of COVID-19. However, there are also countries that have postponed planned auctions, such as Brazil, which is eyeing a May or June 2021 end date for an auction that includes 5G spectrum in four bands: 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz. 3.5 GHz is also gaining interest with various CALA MNOs, while the 600-MHz band has already been announced by Mexico and Uruguay. In terms of the former, Mexico is slated to auction this band, bundled with 3.5 GHz in the second half of 2021 (both for 5G), with other countries likely to follow.

In Europe, the European Union (EU) is working to open new bands and bandwidths for 5G across all EU countries. These include the following bands: 700 MHz (30 megahertz), 3.5GHz (400 megahertz) and 26 GHz (~3 gigahertz). As well, a number of European operators are already making use of 1800 MHz or 2100 MHz for 5G in Dynamic Spectrum Sharing mode. In the Middle East and Africa, multiple operators have been allocated spectrum within the C-Band including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and South Africa.

The ongoing clearing of the spectrum for 5G and beyond is a global trend that we expect to accelerate.

Open RAN

In 2021, Open RAN deployments will gain serious traction and usher in a new generation of products and innovative technology. This is because Open RAN supports truly open and interoperable interfaces within and between the various subcomponents of the RAN: the radio, hardware, or baseband unit and software. This paradigm drives innovation by encouraging the growth of an expanded supply ecosystem, while reducing capital costs and single-vendor lock-in through open interfaces and commodity hardware platforms.

According to Mobile Experts Chief Analyst Joe Madden, almost every company in the radio access market is looking into Open RAN, which he expects will be the choice solution for coverage issues. As Madden notes, Open RAN hardware and software can be cheaper while achieving similar coverage as traditional architectures.

Open RAN offers several advantages for mobile operators.

Open RAN helps lower costs with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) processing equipment for the baseband unit (BBU) and commoditization of the radio unit (RU) hardware. In addition, Open RAN supports the disaggregation of software from proprietary hardware, thereby facilitating the creation and rapid deployment of new services and operational solutions. Open RAN supports a more robust supply chain ecosystem as new vendors enter the market. We therefore see disaggregation of the RAN continuing in 2021 as Open RAN deployments gain significant traction and usher in a new generation of products and innovation, such as the tighter integration of radios and antennas.

Moreover, Open RAN will continue to play a significant role in accelerating the rollout of 5G infrastructure by enabling equipment interoperability. Indeed, Dish Network has selected Open RAN technology for its 5G rollout across the United States and has committed to covering 70 percent of the population by June 2023 with its 5G network. In Japan, Rakuten’s 5G network is based on Open RAN architecture, which allows for mixing and matching of the most appropriate technology for subscribers. Meanwhile, Vodafone has confirmed plans to start Open RAN trials in Europe and Africa, with initial trials expected to focus on mobile calls and data services across 2G, 3G and 4G. Additional Vodafone Open RAN trials involving 5G are expected in the future. It should be noted that Vodafone recently became the first mobile operator to activate a live Open RAN 4G site in the U.K.

The telecommunications industry is looking forward to building a better future in which connectivity is truly ubiquitous and accessible for all. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global deployment of 5G networks, rollouts will continue apace in 2021 as 5G smartphones like Apple’s iPhone 12 hit the market. To support these new devices, MNOs will focus on pragmatic implementations of 5G networks by assessing which deployments can benefit from active massive MIMO deployments. Governments across the globe will also continue to clear additional spectrum to accommodate more users and data, while Open RAN deployments will gain serious traction, ushering in a new generation of products and accelerating 5G rollouts.

Mike Wolf is vice president of mobility network engineering at CommScope.

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COVID-19

ZenFi Sees New York Wireless Bandwidth Consumption Shift in COVID-19 Pandemic

On top of wireless carriers’ normal cycle of build versus buy, the effect of the pandemic added another dynamic to the wireless communications infrastructure business in New York City.

The COVID-19 pandemic boosted requests for wireless infrastructure capacity increases in New York City, according to Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Networks. With the city zoned 70 percent residential, LaChance said, there is work from home, school from home and just people staying at home, consuming much more wireless network bandwidth in neighborhoods where the predominant consumption of bandwidth was not happening before.

Ray LaChanceWe’ve deployed nearly 50 network edge collocation facilities. We’ve deployed 3,000-plus sites, with about 6,000 sites under contract today.— Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi Network

LaChance said that the entire city shut down for quite a while during 2020, such that ZenFi saw some interesting things happen with the mobile operators. “One of the clear messages we started getting is the mobile operators who have been building in the central business districts about New York and really focused on getting capacity there saw the capacity requirements there not dry up, but certainly subside somewhat,” he said.

ZenFi is a digital infrastructure player in the New York-New Jersey metro market, LaChance explained. The company provides fiber-optic networks, edge network, edge collocation and wireless siting solutions. Since it started in 2014, ZenFi has focused on the mobile densification opportunity and specifically the physical infrastructure required to support 4G mobile densification at the time, all the while anticipating the evolution to 5G.

“We were putting small cells and DAS remotes around New York City and in the region,” LaChance said. “Our goal was to work from sparse DAS networks toward denser 4G networks. Now, we’re getting into the 5G world, where it’s going to be an ultra-dense environment. Over the past six-and-a-half years since we started building networks in our region, we’ve built about 1,300 route miles of fiber-optic network. We’ve deployed nearly 50 network edge collocation facilities. We’ve deployed 3,000-plus sites, with about 6,000 sites under contract today.”

During 2020, LaChance said, a lot of infrastructure building took place. “We were closing deals left and right, things we never even imagined,” he said. However, on the mobile infrastructure side, where ZenFi has three primary customers, business with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile has been slow. Last year’s merger of T-Mobile and Sprint changed the dynamics, he said.

“There were questions about what assets they would keep, what they would relieve themselves of and what they would build new,” LaChance said. “Sprint and AT&T have been going through the normal cycle of build versus buy. Every few years, they want to build a lot. Then they back off that, and then they start buying. So 2020 was a mix of that. And then you layer COVID on top of that, and we saw some interesting dynamics in our New York City environment.”

The city government recently approved a new engineering design for the wireless equipment form factor used with light poles, utility poles and traffic poles, which LaChance said will restart the construction of small cells on poles that largely halted for the past two years. The reason was that the previous form factor that the city government allowed in 2004 and that it modified in 2007 does not support the installation of 5G equipment.

“We expect to get started again,” LaChance said, “so 2020 it was a pause year. COVID, 5G designs and T-Mobile all affected us. We’re going to see things really open up this year. A lot more sites have to be deployed to support 5G because they’re using mid bands and high bands. When networks use the LMDS and millimeter-wave bands or submillimeter-wave bands, sites have to be placed closer together. That makes 5G a great opportunity for everybody in the infrastructure business.”

LaChance spoke during the “Evolving Shared Wireless Infrastructure Landscape” fireside chat session during the Metro Connect USA 2021 meeting in February, where Jennifer Fritzsche, chief financial officer of Canopy Wireless, interviewed him. Fritzsche also is a managing director of communications services and digital infrastructure at Greenhill & Co.

Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher.

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Tower of the Month

Site Name: Dehesa

Site Owner: Entel

Height: 80 feet

Location: Lomas de la Dehesa Golf Course
Santiago, Chile

Year Constructed: 2014

Photo courtesy of Sabre Industries

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Diversity in Wireless

ZenFi’s Walter Cannon on the Urban Digital Divide

Walter Cannon is a man of many talents. He is a born salesman — he says he probably came out of the womb trying to sell something — but also he is an accomplished cook and video editor. In fact, he was helping to produce a cooking show in 2009 when a longtime friend called and asked him to take a sales job at a fiber company.

Twelve years later, that company has become ZenFi Networks, and Walter Cannon has become a seasoned sales executive with a view of the industry that goes beyond his own ambitions.

“If we didn’t have the technology that we have and the construction that has been done, we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation today, this way,” Cannon told Lynn Whitcher, general counsel of Md7, on the most recent episode of AGL Presents: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

For Cannon, a passionate advocate for closing the digital divide, connectivity infrastructure is about much more than making a living. “Of the 8 million people in New York City, 1.8 million don’t have access to a computing device or broadband where they live,” Cannon said. “Students have to sit in the hallways of public housing to get Wi-Fi access so they can do their homework.”

Cannon said that he believes ZenFi has an important role to play in connecting the unconnected. He compared broadband internet service with water and electricity delivered by private utilities working closely with the public sector. He would like to see similar public-private partnerships dedicated to planning and deploying broadband, and he said he believes ZenFi could be a key participant in the New York area.

“The infrastructure that we are really lacking is in buildings,” Cannon said. “That’s probably the biggest place where a lot of this money should be put … especially our public housing, affordable housing, a lot of those places really could use it.”

Cannon said he loves being part of a company that has an opportunity to affect the issues that he knows are critically important for New York. He said that working at ZenFi has been his favorite job so far, even more fun than the cooking shows. “This phase of Walter Cannon’s career has been probably the most challenging and the most fun,” he said. “Probably the most rewarding, as well.”

Martha DeGrasse is a contributing editor.

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Site Power

Nokia Confirms 5G as 90 Percent More Energy-efficient

A new study by Nokia and Telefónica has found that 5G wireless communications networks are as much as 90 percent more energy efficient per traffic unit than legacy 4G networks. Conducted over a three-month period, the research focused on the power consumption of the radio access network (RAN) in Telefónica’s network. The rollout of 5G networks is set to increase traffic dramatically, making it critical that the energy consumed does not rise at the same rate. The findings highlight both companies’ commitment to climate change.

Extensive testing examined 11 pre-defined traffic load scenarios that measured the energy consumed per Mbps based on the traffic load distribution. The results highlighted that 5G RAN technology is significantly more efficient than legacy technologies when it comes to energy consumption per data traffic capacity, with several hardware and software features that help to save energy. The study, which used Nokia’s AirScale portfolio, including AirScale base stations and AirScale massive MIMO active antenna solutions, combined actual on-site base station energy consumption readings in different traffic load scenarios, ranging from 0 percent to 100 percent, as well as remote monitoring of actual power consumption through the network management systems.

5G is a natively greener technology, with more data bits per kilowatt of energy than any previous wireless technology generation. However, 5G networks require further action to enhance energy efficiency and minimize CO2 emissions that will come with exponentially increased data traffic. Several energy-saving features at the radio base station and network levels, such as 5G power-saving features, small cell deployments and new 5G architecture and protocols, can be combined to significantly improve the energy efficiency of wireless networks.

Both companies are aligned with the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius. In 2019, Nokia delivered zero-emission products to more than 150 customers worldwide and is committed to decreasing emissions from its operations by 41 percent by 2030. Forty-six percent less energy was used on average in the customer base station sites Nokia modernized in 2019, compared with those where its customers did not modernize.

Nokia and Telefónica are also developing smart energy network infrastructure and power-saving features based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. They are also collaborating to build green 5G networks.

Juan Manuel Caro, director of operational transformation at Global CTIO at Telefónica, said: “We are committed to supporting action on climate change and engender a sustainable culture throughout our entire company. We are proud to work collaboratively with Nokia on this project and others to address a range of initiatives including driving energy efficiencies in the 5G era.”

Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said: “Our greatest contribution to overcoming the world’s sustainability challenges is through the solutions and technology we develop and provide. We place huge importance on this. Nokia’s technology is designed to be energy-efficient during use, but also require less energy during manufacture. This important study highlights how mobile operators can offset energy gains during their rollouts, helping them to be more environmentally responsible while allowing them to achieve significant cost savings.”

Resources:

Source: Nokia

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Research

Umlaut C-band Report Predicts Wireless Industry Enterprise Customer Revenue to Surpass Consumer Revenue on 5G Networks

U.S. wireless carriers’ winning bids of a massive $80+ billion at the recent C-band spectrum auction were necessary and strategically complementary to their investment in 5G wireless communications technology — technology, for example, like mobile edge compute (MEC) and massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas to generate new revenue streams. For the first time, use of this spectrum is predicted to lead to enterprise customer revenue surpassing consumer revenue across the wireless industry. These two conclusions come from the C-band report released by Umlaut, a global, cross-industry infrastructure and benchmarking specialist that provides advisory and fulfilment services to clients in various industries all over the world.

5G Coverage MapDevelopment of 5G coverage between Spring 2020 (above) and February 2021 (below) in the United States, all networks and all 5G variants, including Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. Source: Umlaut crowd data

“This mid-band spectrum is a tremendous asset that will be a critical part of a strategic, multiband network deployment strategy,” said Hakan Ekmen, Umlaut’s U.S. managing director. “As U.S. carriers begin the work to get this valuable spectrum cleared and deployed, we believe that the mobile network operators that can provide consistently low latency, and ultimately availability, will be able to differentiate and win customers in the enterprise space and best monetize their investment in this spectrum.”

  • The unfolding competitive situation — evolving enterprise and industrial demands — is being shaped primarily by spectrum strategy. C-band will surely play an essential role in enabling services that will address enterprise, industrial wireless use cases.
  • 5G’s unique characteristics — scalable bandwidth, dramatically lower latency and using MEC to move applications and use cases to the network edge — will enable wireless extensions of existing time-sensitive network (TSN) applications. The potential for TSN applications over 5G is clearly one of the motivations for pursuing the use of private networks and network slicing and, in Umlaut’s view, C-band will be a solid spectrum choice to deploy a new generation of TSN.
  • In the long-term, all three national U.S. wireless providers will benefit from the auction. That said, competition continues to expand in this industry, from the cable providers serving as MVNOs getting into the wireless game and claiming a major chunk of customer growth, to the potential of Google, Amazon and Apple and others becoming more aggressive in this space. In addition, the industry should be greatly affected by the fourth U.S. national wireless provider Dish and its pending 5G deployments, beyond buying Sprint’s prepaid business. In addition, the U.S. national providers will also face competition from enterprising companies able to use unlicensed spectrum.
  • With the upcoming FCC auction for the lower end of the C-band (3.45 – 3.55 GHz) spectrum range, the interest from potential new market entrants could grow to acquire this valuable spectrum and add competition to a highly competitive industry. It remains to be seen to what degree new market entrants using unlicensed spectrum could gain momentum and capture some of the U.S. MNOs’ market share and revenue streams.
  • With the initial 5G spectrum strategies for carriers now more or less set, operators must move headlong into the fight to achieve operational excellence. With C-band holding a central position in the new 5G world order, Umlaut believes that the next competitive fight on the horizon will be based on latency and, ultimately, availability.

“When you combine the fact that C-band radio units and antennas are both widely available and aggressively being installed now, and that the vast majority of new 5G capable devices support C-band out of the box, C-band deployments will be unleashed sooner than many expect,” said Ekmen. “This deployment will provide the carriers with the ability to enhance their 5G networks with massive additional capacity, lower latency and higher sustained speeds.”

The 2021 C-band white paper can be downloaded here.

Source: Umlaut

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C-band

Samsung Introduces C-band Network Solutions Portfolio

Samsung Electronics has developed a C-Band network solutions portfolio to help U.S. mobile operators deliver advanced 5G service in the mid-band spectrum. According to information disclosed by the company, with this line-up, operators can deliver high performance and efficiently expand the coverage of their networks, while providing enhanced 5G experiences to users in both indoor and outdoor environments.

C-Band refers to mid-band spectrum ranging from 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz, Samsung explained, of which a total of 280 megahertz between 3.7 GHz and 3.98 GHz was auctioned by the FCC earlier this year. The spectrum will play a critical role in helping operators provide 5G wireless communications service with high performance, advanced features and wide coverage for users in the United States. Samsung said its new C-Band portfolio includes the latest advanced radios, such as massive MIMO radio, indoor solutions and network optimization tools.

Backed by Samsung’s commercial experience delivering 5G network solutions in the mid-band spectrum in leading markets, the company offers U.S. operators a range of C-Band solutions to deliver on the promise of 5G. Samsung’s C-Band portfolio includes:

  • Massive MIMO radio: Samsung’s C-band massive MIMO radio has 3D beamforming and supports the auctioned spectrum range of 280 megahertz. The radio will support the latest MIMO technologies, including tripling the bandwidth capacity and doubling the output power compared with prior generations. In addition, the radio enables flexible installation for operators deploying 5G. Samsung’s C-band massive MIMO radio is commercially available, and thousands of units have already been shipped to the United States.
  • Outdoor radio: A compact, lightweight radio with eight antennas – which can operate in bi-sector or tri-sector modes – will be introduced as Samsung’s new 8T8R radio. By bringing greater flexibility in deployment to operators, the new radio is best suited for rural deployments. The product will be available in the second half of 2021.
  • Micro Radio: To address various C-band deployment environments and scenarios, Samsung is introducing a micro radio, designed for dense urban environments. Through easy installation, such as on light poles in cities, the radio will offer operators the ability to fill coverage holes and gain broader 5G coverage with more efficiency. The product will be available in early 2022.
  • Indoor 5G Solutions: Last year, Samsung revealed its Link portfolio, a range of 5G indoor solutions that includes Link HubPro and Link Hub. Both will be expanded to support C-band to bring 5G indoors. Samsung’s Link HubPro is an active antenna solution with indoor radios and hub, supporting scalable indoor deployment, while Samsung’s Link Hub is for places with an existing distributed antenna systems (DAS), providing coverage in public venues (i.e., offices, stadiums and shopping centers). It uses legacy passive antenna systems for fast, easy 5G upgrades. These indoor solutions will be available early 2022.
  • C-band Network Optimization Tools: Samsung introduces two new C-band network deployment and management solutions. First, the Earth Station Protection Solution, commercially available now, enhances C-band networks by preventing interference between a base station and a satellite earth station. Second, Samsung’s time-division duplex (TDD) interference manager is a central coordinator that manages remote interference between cells in TDD networks, enhancing the performance of the C-band network. The TDD interference manager will be available early 2022.

“Samsung is proud to help operators deploy 5G networks in the C-band spectrum with our expansive portfolio of solutions,” said Junehee Lee, executive vice president and head of research and development for networks business at Samsung Electronics. “C-Band spectrum is foundational for delivering 5G networks with high performance and wide coverage. Our complete C-Band solutions portfolio offers U.S. operators greater flexibility in 5G deployments, which will help drive new business models and opportunities.”

C-Band Acceleration

With Samsung’s C-band massive MIMO radio commercially available, units have been shipped for use in Verizon’s state-of-the-art network.

“Verizon has been leading the way with building our 5G Ultra Wideband service on mmWave spectrum using Samsung’s robust mmWave equipment offerings and now, by adding C-band spectrum to this portfolio, we are perfectly positioned to deploy the fastest, most powerful 5G experience to the most people – or as we call it, 5G built right,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice president of technology planning at Verizon. “We are accelerating our deployment efforts with the support of our partners like Samsung so that our customers will see the benefits of expanding 5G Ultra Wideband service shortly after the C-band spectrum is cleared later this year.”

Samsung C-Band Portfolio

Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, said that the arrival and deployment of mid-band frequencies like C-band in the U.S. market is going to lead to an explosion of 5G usage and new applications. “Samsung’s industry-leading C-band portfolio will be critical in helping operators accelerate the buildout of their 5G networks to provide enhanced 5G experiences to users, covering indoor and outdoor applications, as well as urban and rural deployments,” he said.

Samsung Networks has pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions including chipsets, radios and core, according to the Samsung statement. “Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio from fully virtualized RAN and core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools,” the statement reads. “The company is providing network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.”

Source: Samsung

 

Product Showcase

Lightning Protection, Surge Suppression & Grounding Products

STEALTH® Concealment Solutions

RayCap

Raycap provides surge protection, custom connectivity enclosures, and concealment solutions for wireless and broadband networks worldwide.  Our specialized surge protection products protect and connect distributed base station architectures and small cell sites in support of next generation network infrastructure. Raycap products are engineered and built to meet our customer specifications. Our STEALTH® concealment solutions include structures that hide large cell towers or conceal small cell sites, as well as mounts, brackets and other street furniture that supports 4G/5G networks. For more information on our electrical protection products, and our entire product line for the telecommunications industry, please see raycap.com.

www.raycap.com
 

Company Showcase

Lightning Protection, Surge Suppression & Grounding Companies

Flash Technology

Since 1970, Flash Technology has designed and manufactured industry‐leading obstruction lights and navigational aids. Compliant with FAA and FCC regulations, our tower light monitoring systems and 24/7/365 monitoring and call center services continuously check your system’s operational status and update you the second something changes, giving you peace of mind.

Raycap Inc.

Raycap is a leader in infrastructure and power protection solutions for telecommunications, energy, and transportation. It manufactures surge protection and connectivity systems, power and telecom cabinets, and RF-friendly concealment solutions.   

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