Tower top transformation

Ooredoo, in partnership with CommScope has developed vendor agnostic tower tops.

Tags: CommScope IncorporationOoredoo (www.ooredoo.qa)
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Tower top transformation Ooredoo and CommScope’s tower tops provide cost savings through better energy efficiency and the ability to swap out a single part due to its completely vendor agnostic systems.
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  August 16, 2013

Ooredoo, in partnership with CommScope has developed vendor agnostic tower tops.

Ooredoo and CommScope recently announced that they jointly developed the world’s first factory assembled tower top solution, designed to modernise Ooredoo’s wireless access, broadband networks.

“This is a very distinctive innovative approach which we are very proud of because it was developed in the Middle East. We are rolling it out in many of our networks across the group,” said Paul Salmon, CTO, Ooredoo.

The tower top solution is a vendor agnostic standard design to allow operators to mount the antenna and radio units at the top of the tower and all the assembly is done in-factory. The tower top is then lifted to site as a single unit. Traditionally base stations for mobile networks were assembled in factories in a unit and taken to the site and attached to the feeders which fed the antennas. The new remote radio units that can sit outside are often mounted at the top of the tower, so the telecoms operator has to assemble the base station. This means that there are electronics on the ground, radios in the tower, and a lot of complicated wiring which all has to be assembled at the tower top.

“Previously we built the base stations at the factory, wheeled them out, plugged them in and hoped they worked. The reality is that has to be done at the top of a 30 metre tower. It is a lengthy process, it requires very careful work and it is very difficult to test thoroughly for some of the things that go wrong. We now do that in a controlled environment to produce faster, safer and better quality outcomes,” said Salmon.

Challenges
Every operator is looking at how they can add technology to their cell sites to create new synergy for their subscribers. Across the industry there are a lot of different aspects of what has to be done to make LTE a smooth transition.

“In most of the LTE roll outs the operators are not building new cell sites, but are taking existing ones with GSM and are adding LTE to that, so it is a real challenge to modernise the network and to add that additional technology, and at the same time make sure that when you add the new technology you don’t destroy the existing capabilities. The GSM system is paying the telecoms operator’s bills,” said Philip Sorrells, vice president of strategic marketing, Wireless at CommScope.

One of the ways to deal with the addition of LTE to the tower top is by adding a radio, then adding an antennae, but the problem with that, according to CommScope, is that every operator today has GSM, UMTS, LTE, they have 800mhz, 900mhz, 1800mhz, 2.1ghz, 2.6Ghz, there is physically not enough space to put all that hardware.

“We now have a new antenna that is capable of launching five different services out of one antenna and we have a fibre optic system that takes one role of fibre optic cable and power for the base band unit all the way to the top of the tower. We designed that system so that the different radios can all mount right behind the antenna, so as a new radio technology comes into play, it clicks right into place. It is future proof,” explained Sorrells.

Advantages
According to Ooredoo the pre-assembled tower tops’ benefits include faster building and deployment at the tower site, it is safer, there are fewer installation mistakes, and the tower top can be pre-tested before it is lifted into place, which results in far better quality outcomes.

“We have given standard ways of mounting radios on the tower, so whichever radios we use, we attach them using standard adaptor plates, and we attach panels at the top of the tower to avoid vendor specific cabling. If we need to we can swap out radios without replacing the whole solution. The tower top also has a mini-cabinet on the ground which is vendor agnostic so you can plug in and out different vendors equipment without having to replace the whole cabling scheme,” said Salmon.

Ooredoo also claims that the pre-assembled tower top saves considerable time, because they are assembled in a controlled environment.

“Our time savings have been as much as 50% faster then doing it at the top of the tower,” said Salmon.

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