MWC 2014 Preview: CommScope simplifies fibre connections at the base station

The HELIAX FiberFeed Direct breakout canister provides a pre-wired solution to enable power and fibre tails to be plugged straight into remote radio heads on base station antennas

MWC 2014 Preview: CommScope simplifies fibre connections at the base station

Wiring up the junction box on a cell tower to connect the remote radio units to the base station antennas is a complicated process. CommScope has now unveiled a new solution to make it easier and faster to wire up the fibre and power junction box on a mobile cell tower.

CommScope’s alternative comes in the form of a breakout canister, which comes pre-wired on the end of the hybrid trunk cable. The breakout canister forms part of the company’s new HELIAX FiberFeed Direct solution.

The junction box is where a hybrid fibre and power trunk cable terminates at the top of the tower. Each fibre run and power line gets wired into the junction box. From there, hybrid cabling travels out to the remote radio units (RRUs) that ultimately connect to the base station antennas.

Not only is this complicated, but engineers have to carry out the wiring of that junction box while tied to climbing and safety ropes on a tower with the wind blowing, in extreme temperatures or in any number of uncomfortable climate conditions.

Kevin Linehan, VP, CTO, Antenna Systems at CommScope, told Wireless: ‘There is a combination of copper DC and fibre jumper cables in junction box. The engineer has got to find right cables, match them up and connect them correctly. But all of this is done on site and it is fiddly work, especially when you are on top of a roof.’ (See photo of conventional junction box below).

To help reduce complexity, CommScope has come up with its HELIAX FiberFeed Direct, which is designed to speed up deployment by making installation easier and with less errors, so it becomes a get it right first time job.

With the HELIAX FiberFeed Direct most of the work is already completed in factory controlled conditions. The engineering just needs to plug the power and fibre tails into the RRUs, avoiding the need to wire up a junction box on site. The intended result is much easier installations with more reliable results.

HELIAX FiberFeed Direct will mate to any RRU model, reducing the number of overall connections and cutting fibre installation time by half. CommScope believes its FiberFeed Direct customers will also realize about a third less tower loading due to the canister’s physical size.

Linehan said: ‘The radio hub is on top of the cell tower connected to the base unit with a fibre optic hi-speed cable up to the remote radio heads and a power cable. What we have done is bundle those cables. We’ve built the junction box into the cable in effect, so that the engineer does not have to pull them apart and fiddle away up the tower - all the junction box connections are already done and we add a breakout canister. ‘

He added that the HELIAX FiberFeed Direct is another contribution to CommScope’s wider efforts to speed up installation work at cell sites and make it easier, so it can be done by less skilled personnel,

‘HFF Direct speeds deployment processes and the management of the deployment, as you can manage the connections in half the time. Everything is properly measured and the main work pre-done, so that increases turnaround and quality of work on site,’ said Linehan.

Diagram: Comparison between HELIAX FiberFeed Direct connection and conventional junction box connection.

FiberFeed Direct is one of many CommScope innovations for modernising wireless networks that it will be discussing at Mobile World Congress (stands 2I46 and 6I06), February 24-27 in Barcelona, Spain.

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