MWC 2014 Preview: NSN adds 3D mapping to HetNet site planning

Three-dimensional backhaul, radio mapping service speeds the deployment of small cells and ensures high-quality coverage in line with traffic growth projections

MWC 2014 Preview: NSN adds 3D mapping to HetNet site planning

Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) has introduced three-dimensional (3-D) mapping to site planning activities, accelerating small cell deployments as part of Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets).

Adding to NSN’s Services for HetNets range, the new capability substantially reduces drive testing and site survey visits by enhancing the prediction of radio and microwave backhaul propagation in urban areas to provide more accurate results than conventional methods using flat and low resolution maps.

NSN’s Services for HetNets helps operators to plan ahead and forecast the capacity needed to meet the 1000x capacity challenge. The capacity expansion process is iterative, so capacity can be added exactly where – and when – it is needed.

For instance, an operator may choose to deploy four Flexi Zone base stations to cover traffic hotspots around the exits of a busy underground station. Over time, as demand increases, it is easy to upgrade capacity by adding more base stations until the hotspot evolves to become a hot zone managed by a Flexi Zone controller. 

NSN is using highly detailed 3-D maps, combined with its proven expertise in planning HetNets, to improve backhaul and radio simulation when assessing proposed base station sites.

3-D maps with a resolution of just a few centimetres bring the vital level of detail needed to accurately plan low-powered small cells in complex urban environments with a multitude of high-rise buildings and other objects that affect the propagation of radio waves.

3-D backhaul simulation simplifies planning for base station sites which lack a direct line of sight (LOS) for microwave backhaul to the core network. If a building partially obscures the link, an indirect non-line of sight (NLOS) connection can be used to avoid deploying extra transmitters and receivers that would raise costs.

However, it is difficult to plan the right bandwidth, resilience and latency for NLOS backhaul. 3-D backhaul simulation solves the challenge by ensuring good backhaul link quality with fewer site visits and field surveys, cutting the time needed for microwave backhaul planning by 33% and avoiding costly adjustments after sites are installed.

Similarly, 3-D radio simulation models radio frequency (RF) propagation in urban environments. This helps planning experts to forecast cell coverage accurately and mitigate interference from the macro cellular radio layer. The result is a better performing HetNet, where spectrum is used and re-used in small concentrated areas, leading to a better customer experience.

“Conventional simulations using 2-D maps often fail to fully take into account the complexity of the urban landscape, such as the height of surrounding buildings which can obscure microwave paths and impact the propagation of radio signals. This leads to operators paying for costly and time-consuming site surveys,” said Lorenzo Minelli, head of Radio Service Solutions, Network Planning and Optimisation at NSN.

“3-D based simulation is able to spot potential issues and reduce site visits markedly while also improving the first-time success rates of small cell location and the chosen backhaul.”

The new capabilities will be available for commercial delivery during the first quarter of 2014.

“Momentum in small cells deployment is rising rapidly as evidenced by our growing list of orders with NSN Services for HetNets bringing benefits to major operators in Europe, North America and Asia,” added Minelli.

Visit NSN’s Experience Centre in Hall 3, 3B10 at Mobile World Congress, Fira Gran Via, in Barcelona, Spain.

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