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Application

Note

Distributed Antenna Systems and Compact Base Stations: When to Use Which?
By Frank Rayal, VP, Product Management & Marketing

Overview
DistributedAntennaSystems,orDAS,grewfromtheneedtoprovidewirelesscoverageandcapacityto areasofhighlyconcentratedusers.Thisincludesindoorsettingslikeofficebuildings,conventioncenters, airportsandtrainstations,andoutdoorsettingslikestadiums,campusesandplazas.Morerecently,as capacity and coverage demands expanded and some municipalities passed strict edicts against constructing towers, DAS systems got deployed along streets to provide service in the urban and suburban outdoors. In all cases, DAS serves to distribute wireless services where needed and in the processprovidehighcapacityandexcellentcoverage.Bydistribute,wemeanservingarelativelysmall area which limits interference and enables greater frequency reuse factor, consequently leading to greater capacity. The ability to place antennas almost anywhere makes DAS systems perfect to reach areasthatareotherwisedifficulttoserve. Another solution to add capacity and coverage uses compact base stations which are getting large attentionfrombothacostandperformanceperspective.Fromadeploymentperspective,theyprovide similar network architecture to DAS, which raises the question on how these two solutions compare. Thisapplicationnotewillhighlighttheareaswhereeachsolutionmakeseconomicandtechnicalsense. Inparticular,wewilladdresstheconceptofcompactbasestationdeploymentwithwirelessbackhaul and highlight the benefit of BLiNQs solution in enabling a network architecture with low cost of ownership.

DAS, RRH and Compact Base Stations


DAS has developed from the need to extend the service of legacy base stations. These base stations consisted of a rack of equipment where baseband and radios are housed in the same chassis. DAS systems include a RFtooptical converter which digitizes radio signals and sends the data over a fiber optical cable to a remote unit which in turn converts the optical signal into an RF signal as shown in Figure 2. The data rate on the fiber cable is very high on the order of Gbps. There are different possibilities in deploying such a system where multiple remote units can be daisychained and conversionnodesusedsparinglywherecapacityandcoveragearerequired.DASallowstheoperatorto concentratebasebandcapacityinonelocation,suchasabuildingbasement,andusefibercablelaidto differentpartsofthebuilding.Ashighercapacityisrequired,thenumberofremotenodesperbaseband moduleisreduced(i.e.numberofdaisychainednodesisreduced)whilemorebasebandmodulesare

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addedtoaddresscapacityrequirements.TypicalDASsystemsstartwith1:4or1:6remotemodulesper basebandmodule,andtheratioisreducedashighercapacityisrequired.
Antenna

Indoor Backhaul Baseband Processing RFOptical Converter OpticalFiberCable

Outdoor OpticalRF Converter

RF

WirelessBaseStation

DistributedAntennaSystem(DAS)

Figure2BlockdiagramforaDistributedantennasystem. In recent years, base station architecture evolved from a centralized to a split architecture where a remote radio headend is connected to baseband via a fiber optical cable as shown in Figure 1. This allowstheradioitselftobeplacedclosetotheantennawherecoverageisrequired.Basebandresources can still be housed and packed in a chassis which allows scalability of capacity. This base station architecture provides similar usability to DAS with a cost reduction as RF/optical converters are eliminated.ThefibercableconnectingbasebandwiththeRRHstillrunsveryhighdataratethatcanbe3 Gbps(asinOBSAI3.01)orevenhigherinfuturegenerationbasestations.
Antenna

Backhaul

Indoor Baseband Processing OpticalFiberCable OBSAI/CPRIInterface

Outdoor Remote Radio Head

WirelessBaseStation

Figure1Blockdiagramforasplitarchitecture basestation. Movingfromacentralizedtosplitarchitectureconfigurationrepresentsanimportanttransformationin networkoperatorsdeploymentprocessasactiveelectronicsaredeployedoutdoorsonpoleorontower tops,anideathatwasnotacceptableearliertomaintainhighreliabilityandenableredundancyinthe base station. Having broken through that barrier, it becomes natural to adopt deployment of zero footprint, alloutdoor base stations where the baseband processing is moved outdoor and integrated with the radio into one mechanical package as shown in Figure 3. Each compact base station is backhauledthroughawireline(fiberincluded)orwirelessconnectivity. To summarize the architectural perspective, DAS features a centralized base station architecture that includes baseband and radio in one location which is then made decentralized by using an applique optical/RF converters to distribute the radio modules. Split base station architecture, using remote

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Antenna

Backhaul

Outdoor Baseband Processing Remote Radio Head

CompactBaseStation

Figure3Compactbasestationblockdiagram. radioheadends,representsanevolutionoverDASsystemswherethedecentralizedarchitectureofthe basestationobviatestheneedforexpensiveoptical/RFconverters,andfinallythecompactbasestation architecture is a complete decentralized baseband and radio architecture. Compact base station therefore provides a capacity as high as a 1:1 basebandtoremote ratio deployment of a DAS or RRH system. Aside from architecture, there are similarities and differences in how these systems are connected to the core network. DAS systems concentrate baseband resources in one central location. Therefore, backhaulcapacityatonelocationneedstoaccommodatethatcapacitywhichtypicallymeansthatfiber backhaulorveryhighcapacitymicrowavelinkisused(sufficienttoaccommodatemultiplebaseband,or inotherterms,basestationinstances).Inlegacysystems,backhaulthroughahighcapacityleasedline maybeused. Split architecture base stations are backhauled in a very similar manner to DAS systems because they also feature centralized baseband. However, the compact base station architecture offers a different requirementforbackhaul:thebackhaulcapacityisdistributedandisontheorderofthecapacityofa basebandunit.Therefore,iffiberisusedtobackhaulcompactbasestations,thecapacityrequiredison theorderofMbpsandnotGbpsasisthecaseinDASandRRHsystems.Thisopensthepossibilitytouse nonlineofsight wireless backhaul with compact base stations.The following figures show network diagramsforDASandcompactbasestationsutilizingwirelessbackhaulinstallations. DAS, RRH and compact base station solutions provide similar use case and benefits to network operators.Therefore,itcanbeeasytoseethemascompetingsolutions.Yet,thisisnotthecasesince each solution has a different cost depending on the deployment scenario. It becomes important to identifyaframeworkwhichhelpsusidentifywhichsolutioniscosteffectiveperthedesiredapplication scenario.Architectureandbackhaulconfigurationaretwokeyelementsinthisframework:theyindicate whichtypeofsystemtodeployastheyimpactthecoststructureandplacetechnicalconstraintsonthe deployment scenarios. We will explore this framework in the next section focusing on outdoor deployments.

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Figure4NetworkdiagramforDASinstallation.

Figure5Networkdiagramforcompactbasestationwithwirelessbackhaul.

Deployment Considerations
System architecture and backhaul are two key criteria to evaluate in the deployment of capacity or coverageenhancingsystems.Bothimpacttheinstallationcost.Forexample,DASandRRHinstallations require fiber optical cable connection between baseband and every remote node. Compact base stationsontheotherhandrequirebackhaulwhichcanbefiberorwireless.Incasethebackhaulisfiber, theapplicationbecomessimilartothatofDASandRRHintermsofcost(especiallywhendominatedby capital and not operational expenditures). However, when it is possible to use wireless backhaul, considerablecostsavingscanbeachieved.So,whencanwirelessbackhaulofcompactbasestationsbe used? BLiNQsnonlineofsightwirelessbackhaulsolutionisapointtomultipointsystemthatallowsbackhaul of up to four compact base stations using a single hub module. Each hub module operates in Time DivisionDuplex(TDD)modeona10MHzchannelinsub6GHzlicensedspectrumband(e.g.2.32.4,2.5

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2.7or3.33.8GHz).Theamountofbackhaulspectrumandcompactbasestationdensitydeterminesthe suitabilityofthewirelessbackhaulsolution.IfNisthenumberofavailable10MHzbackhaulchannels, BLiNQs systems can be used to backhaul up to 4N compact base stations concentrated in a single geographicarea(e.g.acircleof500minradius).Thisisbecausebackhaulfrequencyreuseisrequired for sufficient signal quality and it is not possible to achieve sufficient reuse factor while covering an overlappingarea.Iftheareaisnonoverlapping,thesamebackhaulfrequencycanbeusedbyleveraging antenna directivity at the hub and BLiNQs interference mitigation techniques to achieve sufficient separation in the frequency reuse plan of the backhaul network. Therefore, taking the example of an outdoorstadium,itwouldonlybepossibletobackhaulupto4compactbasestationswithone10MHz channel. To backhaul a higher number of compact base stations, additional backhaul channels will be requiredsincethebackhaulchannelswilloverlapincoverageoverthestadiumresultingininterference thatdegradeswirelessbackhaulperformance,asshowninFigure6.However,ifwelookattheexample ofacampusorurbancenterdeployment,asshowninFigure7,whereitispossibletoreusethesame backhaul channel by leveraging the hub antenna directivity and interference mitigation techniques, wirelessbackhaulprovidesahighlycosteffectivesolutiontoconnectmultiplecompactbasestationsto a central location (such as a macro cell where high capacity fiber or microwave backhaul is already available)andthereaftertothecorenetwork. Successinusingwirelessbackhaulrequiressufficientfrequencyisolationsimilartofrequencyplanningin access systems (although less stringent in wireless backhaul due to use of directional antennas which limitinterferenceaswellasthepresenceoffewerremotebackhaulnodesthantherearesubscribersin accesssystems).Adequatefrequencyreusefactorofthebackhaulnetworkbecomesmorechallengingin smallersizeareasandveryhighconcentrationofcompactbasestations.Whileanoutdoorstadiummay not be the ideal deployment scenario for nonlineofsite backhaul system, especially if more than 4N nodesarerequired,astreetdeploymenttocoveraneighborhood,aplaza,apedestrianmall,acampus or other such venue presents a very cost effective alternative to outdoor DAS systems. In such a deploymentscenario,enoughseparationcanbeachievedtoreusethebackhaulfrequency.

Figure6Deploymentofcompactbasestationswithwirelessbackhaulinastadium.Multiplebackhaul channelsrequiredtoachievesufficientisolation.

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Figure7Campusorurbandeploymentofcompactbasestations:isolationbetweenadjacentsectors allowscosteffectivewirelessbackhaul. We should also note that the areas where wireless backhaul succeeds in providing a viable technical solutionandbusinesscase,DASfailstoprovidetherequiredeconomicsandviceversa.Thisisbecause fiber costs escalate with distance between the baseband and remote nodes in the case of DAS while wireless backhaul reaches its limitations when theres a large density of remote nodes in one location.Table1belowillustratesasimpleguideonwhichtechnologyismostsuitablegiventhedensity ofremotenodesandlengthoffibercableruns.Therefore,weviewDAS/RRHandcompactbasestation deployments as complementary solutions where one provides a better business case than the other dependingonthedeploymentscenario. Table1Preferredtechnologyfordifferentdeploymentscenarios. LowDensityofRemoteNodes HighDensityofRemoteNodes LongFiberRun CBTSwithWirelessBackhaul N/A ShortFiberRun DASorCBTSw.WirelessBackhaul DAS/RRH

Cost Drivers
CompactbasestationsprovideanintrinsicallylowercapitalcostsolutionthanRRHbasedsystemswhich areanevolutionofDAS.DASsystemsareexpensivebecausetheyrequireoptical/RFconvertersatboth ends.Newer splitarchitecturebasestationsinherentlyusefibertoconnectthebasebandwiththeRF module resulting in lower cost. Since compact base stations combine baseband and RF into a single module,thecostoffibercable,opticalfibertransceiversandtheelectronicsassociatedwiththeOBASI or CPRI interface is eliminated. Moreover, the baseband module chassis, traffic aggregation modules andpowersupplymodulesareeliminatedaswell.Thisresultsinsignificantsavingsinequipmentcapital expenditureofcompactbasestationsoverDAS/RRHsystems.

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Admittedly,equipmentcostisnotgenerallythemaincostdriver,rather,itisthecostoffiberinthecase ofDASandthecostofspectrumforwirelessbackhaulthatarethemaincostdrivers.Costoffibervaries depending on location (from one neighborhood to another in a city) while spectrum cost varies on a countryandregionbasis.Table2showstypicalcostoffiberinNorthAmericawhileitmustbenotedthat cost can exceed the ones indicated below in certain municipalities and dense urban centers such as ManhattanandSanFrancisco.Spectrumcostshavebeenabout2eurocentsperMHzPoPasperrecent auctionsinEurope. Table2CostofFiber. DeploymentCosts (permeter;includesrightofway andrenovationconstruction works) FiberCost (permeter;includescable, connector,&testing) FiberLeaseCost(permonth) Table3ExampleofNLOSwirelessbackhaulspectrumpricing. Country Operator FrequencyBand ChannelSize Germany Vodafone 2.6GHz 1x5MHz Germany Clearwire 3.5GHz 2x21MHz UK UKBroadband 3.5GHz 2x20MHz Netherlands WorldMax 3.5GHz 20MHz Austria WiMAXTelecom 3.5GHz 2x28MHz Greece Cosmotel 3.5GHz 2x14MHz Poland Clearwire 3.6GHz 2x14MHZ Canada SeveralOperators 3.5GHz 2x25MHz Aerial Rural Trenching Suburban Urban $5$12 Variable>~16/Mbps $4.5$11.5 $10$30 $30$100 $80$230

Price 9,051,000 20,000,000 7,000,000 4,000,000 155,000 20,475,000 PLN1,400,000 $11,240,615

System Costs Estimation


WeassumethatthenetworkoperatorwilldeploytheirownfiberincaseofDAS&RRHdeployments.In thiscase,theannualoperatingexpenseforfiberisverylowsincetheoperatoravertspayingmonthly fees.ThisscenariogenerallyleadstoabetterbusinesscaseforDAS&RRHdeploymentssincefiberlease expenses can be very high, often ranging around $1,000 $1,500 in monthly fees, which is at least $50,000 in operating cost over a 5 year period1. Hence, we focus on capital expenditure as,for the assumptionsmade,theoperatingexpenditureforeachcasewouldbeverysimilar.

Thepresentvalueoffiberopticalcableleasedat$1,000permonthwith$1,500initialsetupfeeis$51.7k assuming2%inflationrateand12%discountrate.
1

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ThecostforeachsolutionisshowninTables4,5and6.Itisnosurprisethatthemaincostdriveristhe costoffiberinthecaseofDAS&RRHdeployments.OutdoorDASisfurtherburdenedbytheneedfor additionalopticalconvertermoduleswhichareappliquemodulestoexistingbasestations.RRH/base stationhotelconceptdeploymenthassimilareconomicstooutdoorDAS,butmakesuseofevolvedbase station technology to eliminate the RF/optical converter modules. Compact base station deployment withwirelessbackhaul,whenitispossibletoimplement,isthelowestcostalternativebyasmuchasa factorof4incaseofRRHdeploymentandafactorof6incaseofoutdoorDAS. Table4Estimatedcapexcostsforcompactbasestationdeploymentwithwirelessbackhaul. CompactBaseStation $2,500 Assume1WMicroBTS RemoteBackhaulModule $2,500 RepresentativecostnotactualBLiNQproductpricing BackhaulHubModule $2,500 Assume1:1(PTP)backhaulconfiguration.Costislowerfor PMP Spectrum/Link $1,000 Assume$20mfor20Yearlicenseand1000Linksper network Total(CBTS) $8,500 Table5Estimatedcapexcostsforremoteradioheadenddeployment(basestationhotel). RemoteRadioHeadend $1,000 1WRRH BaseStationBaseband/ $2,540 PerRRHBTSconsistsof10sectorchassiswithfollowing Sector assumptions:$1,000forchassis;$2,000perbasebandcard; $200perpowercard;$2,000foronecontrolcard. OpticalFiberCable $24,000 Assume$240/mforundergroundrunof100m,includes Construction materials,rightofwayandconstructioncosts. Total(RRH/BTSHotel) $27,540 Table6EstimatedcapexcostsforoutdoorDAS. BTS(persector) $4,000 Assumedcostforasinglesectorofastandardbasestation RF/FiberConverters RemoteRadio OpticalFiberCable Construction Total(OutdoorDAS) $5,000 Costofconverteratbasestationsite. $3,000 CostincludesopticaltoRFconverterandtheradio. $24,000 Assume$240/mforundergroundrunof100m,includes materials,rightofwayandconstructioncosts. $36,000

Conclusions
DAS,RRHandcompactbasestationsprovidesolutionsthatdistributewirelesscapacityandcoverageto areaswhereserviceisneeded.Traditionaldistributedantennasystemsareappliquesolutionsusedto extend coverage and capacity of legacy base stations. They provide a viable business case for indoor applicationsandhighlyconcentratedoutdoorstructureslikestadiumswhereverylargesubscribersare located in one area such that very tight frequency reuse and high density of baseband resources are neededtoprovidesufficientcapacity.Enhancementsofbasestationarchitectureallowedremoteradios

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tobeplacedoutdoors,collocatedwiththeantennaontopofthetower,abuildingrooftop,oronapole. ThisfurtherreducedthecostassociatedwithlegacyoutdoorDASsystemsbyeliminatingtheRF/optical converters of traditional DAS. Finally, compact base stations represent a further evolution where the basebandandradioarecollocatedoutdoorswhichpresentsanattractivecostreductionforthenetwork operator. Although compact base stations backhauled through wireline technologies, mainly fiber, provide a similar business case as DAS/RRH deployment, they can offer significant cost savings when NLOS wireless backhaul is used. However, there are limitations on the use of NLOS wireless backhaul relatedtobackhaulfrequencyreuseplan.Therefore,DAS/RRHandcompactbasestationscanbeviewed as complementary technologies each succeeding in offering a competitive business case for a certain deploymentscenario.Aframeworkbasedondensityofnodesandlengthoffiberisintroducedtoassist indeterminingthecasewhereeachsolutionismorecompetitive. Acronyms
CPRI DAS NLOS OBSAI PoP RRH TDD CommonPublicRadioInterface DistributedAntennaSystem NonLineofSight OpenBaseStationArchitectureInitiative PerheadofPopulation RemoteRadioHeadend TimeDivisionDuplex

AboutBLiNQNetworks
BLiNQNetworksisapioneerofbackhaulselforganizingnetwork(BSON)solutionsthatfundamentallychangethe way mobile operators deliver mobile broadband services. BLiNQ solutions provide the building blocks to cost effectivelyandrapidlyscalemobiledatanetworks.Theintelligentsystemsaredesignedtocontinuouslyadaptto changingenvironments,maximizespectralefficiency,andareeasytoconfigure,deploy,andmaintain.Formore information,pleasevisitwww.blinqnetworks.com.

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