Advances in mobile communication technology have ushered the 5G era. Compared with 2G, 3G, and 4G networks, 5G provides better user experience through higher capacity, more connections, and lower latency. Many operators worldwide are gradually launching commercial 5G networks but they face many challenges when initially deploying these networks.
First, sites became complex because of the superimposition of layer upon layer of new radio access technologies (RATs) as new technologies such as 2G, 3G, and 4G were introduced. Consequently, about 70% of sites worldwide do not have the space or load bearing capacity to accommodate 5G modules. Second, renting roofs and towers for site installation is expensive, and leads to high operating expenses (OPEX) for operators. Adding 5G antennas and power equipment would lead to further substantial increases in operators' costs. In addition, operators also face setbacks like difficulty in obtaining sites and long deployment periods when there are hotspots or blind spots in 5G network coverage that have to be solved by a new site.
Huawei created "1+1 Sites", "Super Blade Sites", and "Zero-Footprint Sites" to respond to these challenges and ensure that operators have a smooth transition to 5G. These innovative solutions modernize antennas, basebands, radio frequency (RF) modules and power configurations to help operators deploy 5G quickly at low cost, maximizing the efficiency of their expenditures.
About 70% of sites worldwide cannot accommodate 5G modules because they only have one or two poles in each sector, and already have a large number of pole-mounted enclosure boxes. Also, roughly 30% of existing sites' power systems cannot support 5G's power demands and these systems cannot be easily upgraded. Conventional deployment of 5G requires adding new poles and power enclosures, which requires major reconstruction of existing site infrastructure.
Huawei's state-of-the-art "1+1 Sites" tightly integrate multi-RAT, multi-band, and multi-channel capability through "1+1" antennas, "1+1" RRUs, and "1+1" power sources. Huawei's"1+1 Sites" have a unified, standardized module design, which minimizes site infrastructure reconstruction requirements and effectively reduces total cost of ownership (TCO).
Huawei's "1+1 Antennas" have one antenna that supports four-transmit, four-receive technology (otherwise known as 4T4R) and all frequency bands below 3 GHz, and the other supports 5G Massive Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO). This simplifies sites and eliminates the need for new poles. Huawei has invested heavily in new antenna technology research and development. Through this, the company launched three new antenna platforms in 2018: Munich (MUC) for FDD networks, London (LON) for FDD and TDD, and Bangkok (BKK). In 2019, a series of 5G antenna solutions with smaller size, lighter weight and higher efficiency are further derived based on these three platforms, which help operators promote the 5G network deployment. Huawei's "1+1"ultra-lean antenna design has gained a positive reception from operators in Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region, and other regions.
Huawei's "1+1" RRUs tightly integrate RF components, allowing one high frequency RRU and one low frequency RRU to be used to support the mainstream sub-3 GHz frequency bands, further simplifying RF configuration.
Huawei's "1+1" power sources overlay one blade power source and one blade battery in a simplified way to meet 5G's high power requirements. "1+1" power sources combine advanced and intelligent features to allow end-to-end equipment coordination without the need for new enclosures, power supply, or power distribution, and through this minimize required site infrastructure reconstruction.
Due to the installation of indoor equipment rooms, air conditioners, outdoor power cabinets, and transmission cabinets, traditional sites normally occupy large areas, leading to high electricity fees and complex engineering and maintenance work. In 2012, Huawei took the lead in proposing the concept of blade sites to minimize the installation footprint and simplify deployment. This solution adopts a unified modular design to build the RRU, BBU, power supply, battery, and microwave products in a form of a blade. Different modules can be combined as needed to be freely installed on a pole, tower, wall, or roof, making the base station installation as simple and easy as building blocks. Compared with traditional base stations, blade sites greatly reduce the area occupied, not only facilitating the site acquisition, but also slashing rental costs. Currently, blade sites have been successfully deployed across 310 networks in 170 countries.
In 2019, Huawei launches the Super Blade Site solution to further cope with the new challenges brought by 5G. Highly-integrated Super Blade Sites can comprehensively enhance the performance of antenna, RF, and baseband modules, and power consumption efficiency, meeting the large capacity requirements of 5G deployment in the future. This solution pioneers in simplifying antenna configurations by integrating passive sub-3 GHz antennas and active 5G Massive MIMOs into a Blade BBU. The new-generation blade BBU and blade power supply/battery with small size and high capacity make the site installation flexible and easy. In densely populated urban areas, site installation space is extremely limited and the rental cost is unreasonably high. Super Blade Site is a solution to these problems. In addition to enabling fast 5G scale deployment, it can also substantially slash the site TCO.
5G services are in a full swing. More users look forward to having a taste of the 5G-enabled supreme experience. Operators therefore need more sites to provide larger capacity and to increasingly improve 5G coverage. However, in densely populated urban areas, challenges like difficulty in site acquisition and time-consuming deployment have always held the network development back. Huawei is committed to developing a site that does not require an installation footprint. In 2017, Huawei proposed the three-layered networking concept — adding pole sites into the existing networks of macro and micro base stations to establish site ecosystem alliance. Street lamp poles, power poles, monitoring poles and alike resources will be fully utilized for pole site installation. This not only simplifies site acquisition, but also helps operators save site rentals through infrastructure sharing and cost splitting.
Nowadays, smart cities are on the rise globally, so the smart pole industry is developing rapidly. A pole as an infrastructure resource used to carry one type of service, resulting in forests of poles disrupting the city views and excessive resource waste.
Huawei launched PoleStar2.0, a smart pole solution to support a diverse range of services on a single pole, including 5G mobile communications, smart lighting, smart monitoring, Internet of Things (IoT), smart environmental protection, and city information release. It provides an industry-leading infrastructure solution for smart cities. With inclusive pole design, standard physical ports, and open service interfaces, PoleStar2.0 is suited to fostering industry openness and mutually beneficial cooperation. PoleStar2.0 reserves standard base station interfaces for operators. Large-scale introduction of PoleStar2.0 during smart city building will allow smart poles to interconnect with 5G base station modules and provide a large number of 5G site locations. This facilitates rapid, on-demand 5G deployment and significantly lowers site deployment costs for all operators.
Huawei cares deeply about its customers' needs and will continue innovating to help operators address their network development challenges. Huawei always takes complexity upon itself and creates simplicity for its customers. 2019 is already here and commercial deployment of 5G networks has entered the fast lane. Huawei will launch a full range of simplified site solutions to suit all bands and service scenarios. In doing so, operators can quickly and efficiently build 5G networks and bring ultimate service experience closer to its users.