News From Telecom World

Nokia Siemens unveils all-in-one base station

Posted on: February 8, 2009

Nokia Siemens Networks said this week that it will start deployment in 2010 of a new base station that will enable mobile operators to continue to exploit existing GSM networks and spectrum while readying themselves for future LTE network needs.

According to Marc Rouanne, head of radio access networks at the equipment manufacturer, the new software-defined radio (SDR) Flexi Multiradio base station will support GSM, WCDMA, HSPA and LTE. He said the inclusion of all radio frequencies as well as SDR capability will allow operators to be more flexible about when they should upgrade their networks to LTE, for example.

“SDR has come at the right time,” said Rouanne. “A whole new radio system would have been very expensive.”

Nokia Siemens has already launched a WCDMA/LTE Flexi base station, which is expected to go into mass production this month, said Rouanne. He noted that this will become Nokia Siemens’ only WCDMA network product on the market this year, and means that operators will automatically become LTE-ready once they install the base station.

The new multi-radio base station announced on Thursday will add in GSM, and Rouanne noted that the inclusion of the 2G frequencies is partly a result of increased discussion among operators and regulators about GSM spectrum refarming.

“There is a newer and much more pragmatic discussion about spectrum refarming now,” said Rouanne, citing the global financial crisis, the threat of a capacity crunch as data traffic increases, and the need to optimise networks as key reasons for this development.

He noted that operators are increasingly saying they plan to keep their GSM equipment in the field for some time yet as they come under growing financial pressure.

“It’s an evolution of our current product and is backwards compatible,” said Rouanne.

He said Nokia Siemens is increasingly being forced to take operators’ financial issues into account, and thus has to ensure that networks do not have to be completely swapped out from a cost and environmental perspective. The new base stations are designed to be added to existing equipment in the field, then enabling operators to switch on HSPA or LTE only when they require the extra capacity.

GSM frequencies will be included in the Flexi base station from 2010 as Rouanne said it’s important to ensure that the base station is correctly tuned both for GSM and LTE, which he said have very different computing powers. Rouanne commented that the inclusion of GSM would also give Nokia Siemens an opportunity to exploit its installed base of GSM networks.

Rouanne said some key concerns that are occupying mobile operators now are how to deal with backhaul requirements; what changes should be made to the antenna system, such as whether to adopt MIMO; capacity demands; network topology; whether to adopt network sharing as a way to improve coverage; whether to use femtocells, and if so how should these mini base stations be deployed.

“I don’t think anyone knows the answers to these questions,” said Rouanne, “but we try to prepare for it.”

One thing that is very clear, he said, is that data traffic is increasing exponentially, largely thanks to mobile broadband services.

He said on some networks analysed by Nokia Siemens Networks, data traffic grew by more than 1000% in a year by the end of January. The average is a 4.7-fold increase.

“There are quite a few networks where data traffic is greater than voice,” he added.

Source: Total Telecom

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