Huawei has today (24 February 21012) unveiled two new wireless broadband solutions for boosting capacity; the ARU (Adaptive Radio Unit) and the AtomCell. The products form part of Huawei’s GigaSite suite of solutions and are designed to address operators’ current and future network capacity requirements.
At a briefing in London, Robert H. Fox, chief branding officer Wireless Networks, told Wireless that the products are targeted at hotspots and areas of high density usage in urban areas. ‘It’s what we call the 80:20 rule. Typically 80% of an operator’s network covers areas which carry just 20% of the traffic, while 20% of the network has to carry 80% of the traffic.’
The new products are designed to improve network capacity, quality of service and ease the difficulty of site acquisition in that 20% zone of hot and blind spots without the need to add expensive new macro sites.
Huawei said its AtomCell is the industry’s lightest, most compact, flexible and highest integrated small cell. It is designed to integrate different access technologies, spectrum and backhaul. At the core of the AtomCell is the Atom; providing power amplifier, radio frequency, and baseband functionality. These features combined with a transmission and an antenna unit enables AtomCell to function as a complete base station.
When four Atoms are combined, an AtomCell can also support MIMO and user-targeting beamforming to improve subscriber experiences, as well as providing 360 degree coverage if required. The AtomCell can interface with multiple backhaul connections including copper, optical, microwave and TDD backhaul.
Fox said that the first units will be targeted at the European market and will cover GSM, UMTS and LTE. Versions for other markets will follow. Support for Wi-Fi is currently in R&D. ‘We look forward to announcing trials of the product later this year with a view to providing general availability in early 2013 depending on operator readiness,’ he said.
Lars Bondelind, wireless marketing department VP, said that the AtomCell can be used in three ways: as a complete base station; as a remote radio unit; and as a beamforming unit. ‘You can use the beamforming to track and follow a particular user to get the best possible signal to voice ratio. However, it is more likely to be used to target particular dense areas of usage. It is a low power unit that needs to be approximately 10m from the users, but in that instance with beamforming you can locate the unit further away.’
Huawei is also developing a Cloud baseband sharing system. This builds on Huawei’s existing pooling method, which allows hundreds of base stations to communicate with each other. This makes easier to handle interference cancellation, thereby optimizing the performance of each base station and therefore also optimizing nework capacity. This ability to do this becomes particularly important when small cells, such as the AtomCell, are co-located with much more powerful macro cells.
‘Developing Cloud baseband sharing is a prerequisite for the best use of the AtomCell,’ said Bondelind. ‘It allows you to make optimal use of the existing spectrum when small and macro cells are co-located. If you don’t, then you’ll only get 50-60% capacity from the cells, as the rest is being interfered with by the macro cells.’
Adaptive Radio Unit (ARU)
Huawei’s new ARU is also designed for macro deployments where operators need massive capacity covering a lot of spectrum bands. As the industry’s highest capacity radio unit, capable of supporting gigabit throughput in one box, Huawei’s ARU complements a strategy of building solutions that are multi standard, multi spectrum and software defined. Integration of an adaptive antenna system and RF unit enables the Huawei ARU to simultaneously support beamforming and multi-sector networks, using the same space and antenna.
Like the AtomCell, the first version of the ARU supports the 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz European bands combining a number of active antenna systems in one unit. With two antenna arrays the ARU can cover two sectors. ‘It provides huge flexibility,’ said Bondelind, ‘as it is adaptable in so many dimensions. The unit covers 40MHz of spectrum, so this enables it to support a huge amount of data.’
The ARU supports 1.6Gbps downlink and a 1Gbps uplink. It is designed to fit current network configurations, so operators can integrate it into their existing infrastructure without having to change the architecture.
Bondelind added: ‘It also supports the continual evolution of the network as we can upgrade it using software defined radio, so an operator can re-farm his UMTS spectrum to LTE, for example. The unit can follow the operator as he introduces new standards.’
Both products are part of Huawei SingleRAN system designed allow multiple standards to be accommodated in one cabinet. Last year Huawei introduced its Single SON (self-organising network) where new cells can automatically identify the neighbouring base stations they communicate with and incorporate the necessary data from them.
The system also provides a cell outage detection capability and then takes action to compensate for the dead cell by either increasing power from neighbouring cells or tilting a neighbouring antenna to cover the lost sector.