While 3G network deployment is increasing at a blisteringly fast rate, it is also very costly. As we told you awhile back, one of the reasons for this is that 3G networks require 4 to 5 times more cellular base stations to provide the same coverage as a 2G network.
Siemens Communications has developed a technology that allows for remote radio head systems for W-CDMA base stations and has struck an agreement with Vodafone Germany to supply them with the technology. Siemens’ new modular system allows for the physical separation of a cellular radio head with its server base station (which were previously permanently integrated). What does this techno mumbo jumbo mean? Essentially, Vodafone is going to save a lot of money expanding and upgrading its W-CDMA 3G network.
The flexibility in building networks with remote radio heads will reduce installation costs between 30 to 70% and power consumption by 50%. Operators like Vodafone will also now be able to install remote radio heads for GSM base stations, making them W-CDMA capable with little cost and effort. The remote radio head, which weights less than 20 kg, can be installed relatively easily on a roof or a transmission mast, while the server, which is smaller than a conventional base station, can be located where costs for the space are lower – for example in basements or storage rooms. The servers and radio heads are connected via optical fiber, which can be installed more flexibly, takes up less space and is cheaper than conventional high-frequency coaxial cables.
Siemens’ technology has now been shipped and installed and is undergoing field trials. Hopefully we’ll see it being used soon in North America to expand our 3G networks.