Nokia Networks has introduced a new Flexi Zone outdoor modular base station, which it claims is the first small cell to achieve over 1 Gbps peak data rate. It has also made available a range of new services aimed at simplifying small cell deployment and help operators to evolve to ultra-dense networks.
With up to 90% of a small cell's total cost of ownership (TCO) consumed by its deployment and operation, Nokia Networks has lined up several innovations to address the major barriers. These include the optimal selection of viable sites, more efficient backhaul, improved plug and play technology, new energy-saving features and simplified synchronization between base stations.
Flexi Zone G2 small cell
The new Flexi Zone G2 multi-band carrier aggregation outdoor micro/pico base station (BTS) platform is designed to deliver better capacity and greater than 1 Gbps peak data rates. By using three RF module slots, operators can deploy and aggregate between various radio access technologies and spectrum combinations including up to three LTE licensed carrier bands or configurations offering a combination of LTE licensed carrier bands, unlicensed LTE bands (LTE-U or LAA) and Wi-Fi.
Nokia HetNet Engine Room
Nokia HetNet Engine Room allows operators to deploy small cells 30% faster, with 20% lower costs and serve 10% more subscribers. Using detailed 3-D street level maps, the service calculates a 'Site Value Index' that quantifies the likely return on investment (ROI) for operators from different locations.
Other Nokia Networks launches focus on overcoming the technical and cost barriers of deploying small cells.
NLoS wireless backhaul from Tarana Wireless
A point-to-multipoint non-line-of-sight (NLoS) wireless backhaul option from Nokia Networks partner Tarana Wireless. Fast high-performance fibre-like backhaul can now be deployed to sites that are difficult to reach cost-effectively with fibre or line-of-sight technologies.
Intelligent Self Organising Networks (iSON)
New Intelligent Self Organising Networks (iSON) capabilities enable rapid small cell deployments with backhaul over public networks and for operator networks that do not use Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). In these two more complex environments, small cells can now be operational in under 20 minutes after being powered up.
Integrated Grand Master Clock function
An integrated Grand Master Clock function added to the Flexi Zone Controller that distributes a high accuracy clock to all Flexi Zone AP within the cluster. This functionality offers significant CapEx and OpEx savings by eliminating the need for an external timing solution or GPS antenna for each small cell.
Flexi Zone operating costs are reduced by a new energy-saving feature that enables operators to power down capacity underlay small cells at specific times and at low loads.
Randy Cox, Head of Small Cell Product Management at Nokia Networks, said: "Deploying a small cell on one side of a road can cost ten times more than at a location just a few meters away on the other side of the road.” In the US for example, the cost of pole rentals can vary from $US 50 to $US 1,000 per month and site acquisition can range from $US 3,000 to $US 30,000.
Cox continued: “We are bringing a new approach that enables operators to pick the best sites and then deploy small cells and their backhaul quickly and at a much lower cost. Now operators can justify the business case for small cells and improve the return on their network investments."