Facing a variety of 5G commercial scenarios, the digital intelligent indoor distribution system is expecting a great future

In the mobile broadband data era, it is counted that traffic exceeding 80% occurs in indoor areas. How to improve indoor wireless network coverage and guarantee user experience and to create new values for business models have become the kernel concern to telecom operators, vertical industry enterprise customers and large commercial property owners.

Compared with outdoor macro coverage, indoor scenarios are more complicated and diversified. With the commercialization of 5G, muti-scenario and muti-service requirements are stimulated, and indoor distribution solutions are required to meet service requirements in diversified scenarios. The 5G small site is facing great business opportunities, and the development of 5G small sites is widely being expected by the industry.

In addition to deep indoor coverage in high-value areas, such as airports, railway stations, subway stations, large stadiums, exhibition centers, CBD, business centers and college campuses, the growth of indoor distribution systems mainly come from two major directions: first, from a large number of medium and small-capacity enterprise application scenarios, such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, and book bars, and second, from a vertical industry application scenario with abundant service requirements, such as smart industrial parks, future smart digital manufacturing workshops, and hospital emergency operating rooms. The 5G indoor solution can greatly improve the internal communication and business efficiency of enterprises, and replace the traditional communication modes of enterprises. The popularization of information monitoring, HD video, IoT, and other applications will also rapidly promote 5G indoor coverage requirements. Moreover, large business owners also need the digital smart indoor distribution solution. In addition to providing wireless signal coverage in high-value indoor 5G areas, large business owners can also provide value-added services such as accurate indoor positioning, HD video monitoring, games, and commercial advertisement promotion, and promote the joint innovation business model between operators and businesses to better serve end users.

Innovative products and solutions reduces further deployment cost and adapts diverse scenarios

In the more complicated commercial 5G scenarios, the new-generation 5G+ digital intelligent indoor distribution solution of ZTE QCell supports the combination of multi-frequency and multi-mode, and the large bandwidth meets the requirement of co-build and sharing, which achieves fast deployment and larger capacity and provides users with 5G ultra-fast experience. After extensive accumulation of the commercial use of 4G and the trial of 5G, the QCell digital intelligent indoor distribution system can bring much larger capacity, flexible capacity expansion and lower OPEX than the ever traditional DAS systems. In addition, it can provide value-added services and brand new business models based on the precise indoor positioning.

The three-level architecture supports simple and agile indoor deployment, and product design innovation reduces single-unit costs and power consumption. AI algorithm intelligently shuts down some equipment for saving power consumption. The visualized O&M, intelligent optimization and self-healing reduce operation costs. QCell 5G+X enables the possibilities of private indoor distribution system and industrial applications for the vertical industrial customers. QCell combining with MEC can introduce value-added services based on precise indoor positioning and innovative business models, to help operators expand their vertical industrial customers and broaden the source of revenue under the premise of cost saving, to cope effectively with the upcoming applications of the 5G+ indoor distribution coverage.

The innovative design of the QCell perfectly balances the high performance and low cost by network construction

The ZTE QCell system consists of pRRU/pBridge/BBU (Baseband Unit) 3-level equipment. The 3-level efficient architecture supports the rapid cabling of CAT6a network cables or optical-electrical hybrid cables. It supports pBridge multi-level cascading, cell splitting and combination, and can rapidly respond to the operator’s requirements for the complex networking of different frequency bands and systems, rapid adjustment and flexible expansion of capacity and coverage.

The 300 MHz large bandwidth products with multi-mode and multi-frequency band enable the ZTE QCell solution the powerful network architecture integration capability, to meet the requirements of multi-operator’s co-building and sharing and have the compatibility and adaptability of global deployment. It not only supports the overlay networking of the existing DAS and 5G QCell, but also supports the feed-in of the GSM/UMTS DAS RF signals from different manufacturers in the existing network through the MAU, to protect the operator’s existing indoor distribution investment and introduce value-added services based on 5G coverage and precise positioning. QCell supports GSM/CDMA/UMTS/FDD LTE/TDD LTE/5G NR, which makes once deployment to implement the multi-operator/multi-band/multi-system indoor distribution system that achieves agile, long-term, co-construction, sharing, and lowest cost indoor distribution network, multi-system equipment and common management and maintenance. It only needs software upgrade for service expansion and network architecture evolution in the future so as to protect the investment in early-stage 5G indoor deployment and reduce the overall TCO cost from the perspective of long-term operation.

ZTE adopts innovative design of QCell products to reduce the cost and power consumption of equipment units. The pRRU transceiving channel not only supports high-performance 4T4R, but also supports low-cost 2T2R, further reducing the cost and power consumption. The pBridge enhanced product is designed to reduce the cost and power consumption after the electrical interface and optical interface are separated and the SoC solution is introduced. Moreover, the simplest BBU product is introduced to further reduce the QCell system networking cost.

The hierarchical QCell networking well matches diverse scenarios

Based on the analysis of the requirements for indoor distribution of operators, vertical industry enterprises, and large business owners, the indoor distribution scenarios can be divided into three types: capacity-sensitive scenario (type A), capacity and coverage balancing scenario (type B), and coverage-sensitive scenario (type C).

For the above three types of scenarios, ZTE provides hierarchical QCell networking solutions. Compared with the Benchmark QCell solution of 4T4R built-in antenna pRRU, ZTE provides a cost reduction solution of 2T2R built-in antenna pRRU and a low cost solution of 4T4R pRRU+ connected with external DAS antenna according to the scenario requirements, thus achieving the accurate network construction and saving operators’ investment. Evaluations based on the 40,000 square meters isolated indoor distribution scenario show: for scenario type B, the total main equipment investment is reduced by about 1/4; for scenario type C, through the external DAS antenna, the single-pRRU coverage area is greatly expanded and the overall investment is greatly reduced by about 1/2.

Extensive QCell Digital Smart Indoor Application, Making 5G Service Ubiquitous

The QCell digital intelligent indoor distribution system can be deployed for indoor and semi-indoor to achieve wireless coverage and service provision in high-value areas, such as large traffic hub, large stadiums, CBD and university campuses.

The large-scale traffic hub scenarios, such as airports, railway stations, and subway stations, have a large area and high population density, and are high-value areas for operators to guarantee both coverage and performance. The Wi-Fi system of most transportation hubs is often limited in capacity and cannot meet passengers’ requirements for future 4K/8K HD video. In Changsha Huanghua Airport, ZTE deployed the indoor high-capacity digital intelligent QCell solution with high-density networking and the first 3-carrier aggregation technology in China, to achieve the throughput of 8400Mbps for the airport. The solution supports 3,500 people simultaneously to enjoy HD video smoothly. At present, the QCell solution has been widely used in various metropolitan airports and railway hub stations, including Changsha Airport in Hunan, Xiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, Nanjing South Station and Xining Railway Station, serving millions of passengers. Nanjing South Railway Station has a total building area of 45.8 million square meters, which is the largest railway station in Asia. After QCell is deployed, the SINR is increased by 13% and the throughput is increased by 91.8%.

The large stadiums, such as stadiums and exhibition halls, have a large number of users and a huge amount of data volume in a centralized manner. The QCell solution supports vertical partitioning to achieve seamless multi-layer coverage from the upper stands, the middle mezzanines to the bottom passages. At present, the QCell solution has been widely deployed in large stadiums such as Hangzhou Olympic Center, Hangzhou Expo Center, Suzhou International Expo Center, and Shenzhen New High-Tech Center. In August 2019, the ZTE 5G Smart Digital Indoor Division QCell solution covered many important sports venues including the Main Conference venue of the Red Lantern Stadium for the second National Youth Games (Shanxi), and made the Game the first “5G Games” in China. Through such technologies as MEC deployment and low delay coding, the ZTE 5G Smart stadium solution reduces the end-to-end live broadcast delay to 1 second, and provides audience with the excellent experience comparable to watching on the spot. In addition, ZTE also provides audience with brand-new experience in three 5G scenarios: immersive viewing experience from multi-angle live streaming, “Flexible Zooming” and “360-degree Free View” services. As an iconic application in the Game, the 5G Smart Stadium Solution provided an excellent demonstration for the live broadcast of sports events.

The CBD in cities has high-density buildings, complex structures, high-density of people, and high property installation requirements, which concerns both aesthetics and concealment. The QCell products have small, beautiful appearance with hidden and convenient deployment and short construction time & quick commissioning. Currently, the QCell solution has been widely deployed in the business centers of major cities. Verified by the deployment of indoor distribution coverage and precise positioning application by use of QCell+MEC in the Changping shopping Center in Beijing, it achieved a positioning precision of less than 5 meters under the prerequisite of full coverage of indoor space, which helps raise the revenue by interconnecting with the big data platform of the third party, improving the user experience, accurate marketing, promoting consumption and identifying the potential customer.

As another centralized user scenario, campus buildings are complex, including teaching buildings, dormitories, canteens, and outdoor spaces. In this scenario, coverage solutions are complicated, traffic capacity is large. After the deployment of the QCell solution in Sichuan province, the traffic model comparison shows that the traffic contribution capability of the QCell system is 20 times that of the traditional DAS system, and the downlink rate is 13 times that of the DAS system. The system capacity is greatly increased to meet the high traffic requirements. So far, the QCell solution has been deployed in many colleges and universities in the cities such as Wuhan, Chengdu and Shanghai, providing high-quality services for hundreds of thousands of teachers and students.

The ZTE QCell solution has been commercially deployed on a large scale in dozens of operators in China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Belarus, South Africa and Algeria, serving millions of users and creating new intelligent indoor experience. Until now, ZTE has deployed 1.8 million sets of QCell equipment all over the world.