European standard allows for flexible base stations

One of the key ways for operators to reduce their spend on network infrastructure is to adopt flexible base station designs, particularly those based on remote radio heads (RRH). These separate the radio from the baseband, allowing for lower power consumption, more commoditized elements, and flexible upgrade options for new bands or standards.
All these advantages cut cost and risk to the extent that over two-thirds of LTE investments will be RRH-based by 2014, according to Rethink Technology Research. The momentum behind this approach is now so great that Europe is looking to establish standards, and the region's standards group, ETSI, has announced a new initiative to create an Open Radio Equipment Interface (ORI).
This would standardize the interoperability between the radio head and baseband, and ETSI will work on the operator dominated industry group, the NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Network) Alliance. The standardized interface will apply to GSM, UMTS and LTE, though not Wimax, which is also a major market where RRH technology is used - underpinning as much as 75% of infrastructure spend by 2014.
The proposed new ORI standard would grow out of requirements work undertaken by the NGMN Alliance, in its snappily named OBRI (Open BBU RRH Interface) project. It will also build on one of two existing standards efforts for base stations interfaces, CPRI (Common Public Radio Interface). This is led by Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC and NSN. The second such group, OBSAI, which has a somewhat broader remit, has not specified its role in the new body but is likely to cooperate.
Founding members of the new standards group include several vendors and operators that were involved in OBRI. These include all the top six wireless equipment vendors, plus chipmaker Freescale, Fujitsu Labs, and several specialist suppliers. Involved operators are AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, DoCoMo, Telecom Italia and Vodafone.
The first specification is due in September, covering 3G and LTE, with GSM to be added early next year.
This article originally appeared on Rethink Wireless