Sub 10 Systems has developed a small cell, backhaul product, which uses the largely neglected millimetre Wave (mmW) radio spectrum - 60GHz in this instance. The product is designed to address the explosion in the use of data and help mobile network operators in particular cope with data traffic bottlenecks.
The company’s Liberator mmW radio units, which are smaller than an iPad, are targeted at providing a cost-effective backhaul solution to this problem. They provide high-speed, high capacity, point to point wireless data communications links. The links are low-cost to supply, install and maintain; incur no ongoing usage charges; and are immediately available as an alternative or supplement to leased lines connections.
Sub 10 Systems CEO Stuart Broome told Wireless that operators around the world are now investing in new 4G/LTE networks partly driven by the need to handle the huge increase in mobile data traffic. These networks involve tightly knit patterns of small cell sites, especially in city centres.
The ‘backhauling’ of traffic from mobile network base stations to the core network traditionally relies on leased line connections. However, the need to deliver increased capacity means that city centre cell sites will cover much smaller areas and a far greater number of cells will therefore be required – three or four times the number is a conservative estimate.
More cell sites, means more backhaul, and cabling for all those sites. The associated costs of cable laying and potentially roadworks mean that this is now a much larger part of the overall infrastructure investment. As the cost of the small cell units falls, so the cost of the backhaul requirement rises.
Broome said: ‘We use very small amounts of spectrum and because 60GHz transmissions only travel short distances you can reuse the spectrum over and over again. That means it can co-exist with the LTE small cells for example without depriving anyone else of spectrum or interfering with other networks.
‘Small cell networks need a lot of links within quite small areas and because the Liberator cell is small it can be easily attached to street furniture with minimal planning requirements. We provide a last mile backhaul alternative to fibre, although we can also provide longer links by deploying a daisy chain of cells down a whole street – the latency is very low – and you can put them next to each other without interference.’
Broome says that mobile carriers are the key market, but he anticipates that it system will appeal to the B2B market and high-definition CCTV networks for security purposes, which are very data hungry.
Sub 10 has two products on the market, which both operate between 57GHz and 64GHz: the Liberator-V320 delivers a full duplex data rate of up to 320Mbps; while the Liberator-V1000 delivers a full duplex data rate of up to 1Gbps. The V1000’s range is less than the V320 at up to 800m. The radio and power source are connected to a network node using a single, outdoor rated, CAT 5e Ethernet cable carrying power and data.
The units are available immediately and are quick to install without any expensive civil works; the mmW spectrum is licence-free in most countries; and there are no ongoing usage fees attached to the units. Sub 10 believes that as well as lower initial capital expenditure costs for installation, a network operator can expect to save on average around €3,000 (£2,500) per cell site per year in operating costs by using mmW radio links for backhaul rather than leased lines.
Broome reports that major network operators and infrastructure vendors have already proven to be keen to work with Sub 10 on a variety of installations internationally. The company has around 600 links live with some 60 network operators or private customers.
Its largest single installed customer is being supplied in partnership with a major macro network infrastructure vendor and consists of some 90 live MMW links on a pilot LTE network for a Tier One European operator.
Sub 10 Systems is an independently financed company based in the South West of England. It was established by a group of experienced telecoms and wireless professionals in 2010 and launched its first products in 2011.