Accelerating 5G Rollout

By: Patrick Mambo

Since its definition by the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) in 2015, and the release of 3GPP’s standard needed for fixed broadband and mobile services, the fifth-generation wireless system (5G) has caused waves of excitement in the mobile industry, enterprise and consumer markets. 5G wireless is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue for equipment manufacturers, cellular operators, service providers, added value application companies and businesses through the technical advantages it provides. 5G boasts some impressive advantages for mobile operators to capitalize on. These include connection density of 106/km2 (including IoT) and the ability to offer 20 Gb/s downlink and 10 Gb/s uplink in a spot cell using millimeter wave or small cell with higher microwave. Consequently, the number of 5G cells in each geographical coverage area will drastically increase in comparison to 4G. This raises the question: how can operators efficiently roll out the Radio Access Network (RAN) services in a short timeline?

Figure 1 - Typical cellular site rollout process workflow

Usually rollout begins with the definition of requirements and proceeds to cell site services activation via a process workflow involving different teams. Though it may vary from one operator to another, the Figure 1 depicts a typical process. Here, the backhaul solution design phase contributes in the service deployment delay. When a site candidate is designated as stranded because there is no feasible backhaul solution (due to high fiber cost, blocked microwave line of sight, or another reason), RF engineering is notified for a new candidate proposal or a new search ring phase. With the volume of sites necessary to deploy across a market, today’s cycle is too time-intensive.

Pre-checking backhaul availability during RF search ring phase

To minimize the number of rejection cycles, a new approach is required. RF engineering could perform a basic assessment of backhaul availability or feasibility while analyzing site candidates. The intent is not to have the RF team play the role of backhaul engineers but instead ensure the proposed candidates have less chance of rejection during the process. Of course, overloading RF engineers during the backhaul pre-check should be avoided. Using an appropriate and user-friendly tool with integrated map is necessary in this approach. The key features to look for in the application should include the following:


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