PARTNER FEATURE: As 5G applications are maturing and governments are beginning to prioritize the industry, global operators are putting greater effort into 5G base station construction. For instance, three major operators in China are expected to build over 100,000 base stations this year alone.
5G commercialization will require far more base stations than 4G, so many people mistakenly believe that equipment procurement will be a major expense. But in fact, base stations only make up 10% to 15% of the total cost of operation (TCO). The remaining expenses go on towers, engineering work, rent and electricity. Reducing 5G site TCO has always been a major concern to operators.
In modern cities, there are many potential sites, such as electricity pylons and lamp poles, which can supplement new site resources. Leveraging these existing utilities and sharing them among industry players may be the way forward.
Huawei has devised its Open Site concept to provide innovative solutions to site simplification and encourage more open cooperation within the site sector.
Two Major Breakthroughs of Open Site
“Site location and energy consumption should not stand in the way of 5G deployment, according to Hao Yingtao, President of Huawei Wireless Site Product line. Developing communications technologies and base station equipment under Moore’s Law is leading to increased integration and miniaturization. Cooperation between operators and equipment vendors is fostering engineering innovation and modularized base station designs, improving site aesthetics and making installment easier.
These two development trends enable the shift in site structure to open from closed. As a result, sites can now be moved outdoors, away from equipment rooms and cabinets, and become more compatible with their environment. Open sites can adapt to more site deployment scenarios, continuously reduce TCO, and facilitate fast and efficient deployment of 5G sites.
Hao Yingtao indicated in the interview that Open Site will help build an exclusive site industry ecosystem to further open up policies, resources and designs to make sites more compatible.
Innovative Solutions for Site Simplification
In terms of site construction, Huawei has made bold innovations in three segments: sites, electricity, and transmission.
Sites: It is not realistic to simply superimpose 5G networks over 4G base stations when 5G is rolled out. Therefore, Huawei has developed simplified, scenario-based site solutions, such as Super BladeSite, TubeStar, and PoleStar. It released blade 5G equipment to allow operators to build 5G facilities like building blocks, where the components of 5G base stations adopt modular and component-based designs and can all be installed upon poles. This removes the need for auxiliary utilities like air conditioners and equipment rooms, greatly reduce operators’ TCO.
Electricity: Huawei 5G Power accelerates the time to market for 5G energy engineering by aligning with wireless equipment and adopting artificial intelligence, improving energy conservation and reducing emissions. 5G Power focuses on high-density 5G blade servers, helping operators implement One Frequency, One Blade and One Site, One Cabinet to easily deploy base station power supplies.
Transmission: 5G wireless transmission performance can match that of wired transmission, which will be popularized and be scenario-specific. 5G microwaves can achieve 10 Gbit/s data rate at anytime, anywhere.
Open Cooperation in the Site Industry
There are more than 7 million base stations around the world, around 45% of which are in China, and the total number of base stations in the next decade will reach tens of millions. During the construction of base stations, we find a high amount of utility pole resources, such as lamp poles, electricity pylons, and monitoring poles, that can serve as 5G sites. If these utilities in every corner of cities can be reused, 5G networks will be growing in leaps and bounds. Tong Jilu, President of China Tower, revealed that tens of millions of tower and pole resources have been reserved for potential site construction. It is estimated that over 80% of 5G micro sites on the ground will utilize these infrastructure such as lamp poles and monitoring poles to save social resources and improve environmental friendliness.
Formulate Standards and Building More Open Cooperation
Using utility poles to build 5G sites is a prerequisite for rapid and low-cost 5G development, but there also exist multiple challenges. Hao Yingtao proposed to encourage open cooperation among all parties in the Open Site industry chain in four key areas.
Formulating industry standards: Only when the interfaces and capability standards of communications poles are determined and aligned can the poles carry various services – such as IoV edge computing, intelligent monitoring, smart firefighting, and intelligent light control – smoothly and simultaneously. If manufacturers adopt design standards that integrate communication capabilities and reserve standard physical interfaces, the lamp posts they produce are likely to be usable as 5G sites.
Building the Open Site industry alliance: Huawei launched a global site alliance in 2017 to bridge the knowledge gap between companies, and so far has held over 10 summits worldwide in tandem with its partners. The coalition has also participated in more than 20 regional activities and attracted more than 50 partners to workshops. It plans to gradually share design documents with industry partners, set up a developer community, and promote Open Site.
Encouraging policy incentives: Operators used to struggle with new site deployment as it took a lot of effort to obtain government approval. With government support, operators could roll out networks at a surprising pace. Shenzhen authorities began sharing monitoring pole resources with China Mobile to build 4G networks around three or four years ago, and thanks to this policy, China Mobile was able to quickly build around 4,000 4G base stations situated on monitoring poles, greatly improving its network coverage in Shenzhen.
In view of this, Hao Yingtao is calling on governments to provide policy support for site construction and to adopt open management regulations.
Promoting social resource sharing as site: A foot of land is worth an inch of gold in city centers and utility poles occupy a lot of room. In order to develop 5G, each industry will need to share its existing infrastructure to allow those resources to be used effectively. This will be of great value to society as a whole.
Open Site is of great significance to the rollout of 5G.
Leading operators are racing to seize 5G opportunities in an attempt to rapidly roll out 5G networks at a low cost and with all resources combined. The Open Site concept intends to release a large amount of social resources, such as utility poles, to help operators construct networks. In addition, it is beneficial to various pole manufacturers and conducive to urban 5G development.
Hao Yingtao highlighted that “Huawei has been committed to innovating solutions to address customers’ difficulties in network construction. And at the same time, we also embrace an open mind and look forward to working with all industry players to create a better ecosystem for the development of mobile communications.”