The deployment of small cell networks in high-density urban environments is an expensive and time-consuming process. In addition to the effort of deploying a passive fiber communications infrastructure, a parallel power solution is also required. This powering of a small cell network requires an additional specialized set of electrical design, implementation, test, and commission resources; increasing overall time and deployment costs.
VoltServer worked closely with KelTech IoT to tackle this challenge by combining the fundamentals of a communication network, i.e., data and power, in an ‘all-digital’ solution, significantly reducing the dedicated resources needed to power a small cell network. The Dual Distributed Network (DDN) approach results in a smaller, quicker, more cost effective and safer implementation.
Ultimately, Keltech IoT, utilizing VoltServer Digital Electricity™, for a client in London was able to provide a solution with 43% CapEx savings, with anticipated OpEx savings of 10 to 15%.
The number of small cell deployments is forecasted to exceed 30 million over the next 6-year period to meet the growing demand for distributed digital services and 5G deployments. However, deployment costs and complexity remain key challenges, as well as operation expenses. E.g., Power connectivity for mobile operators is as high as 40% of the operating costs.
While communication network technology has evolved significantly in the last three decades, the technology to power those networks has changed little. Safety, for example, remains a concern with traditional electricity resulting in specialized resources for all power requirements, including electrical design, implementation, test, and commission. This separation from the fiber network implementation leads to higher costs, sub-optimal deployments along with delays and dependencies on power utilities for support.
A Dual Distributed Network (DDN) transforms the deployment of communication networks by combining data and power in a single hybrid cabling infrastructure solution. Utilizing VoltServer Digital Electricity™ (DE), this ‘all-digital’ network can be deployed faster and more cost effectively than the current methodology in a safer, simpler and smaller implementation than would otherwise be possible.
KelTech IoT’s unique DDN solution uses a hybrid cable that combines pairs of copper wire to carry DE along with traditional pairs of fiber-optic cable. The total solution involves three key components.
- The head-end converts analog electricity (AC or DC) into DE and combines this with a data into a single hybrid cable for transmission.
- The DDN Enclosure converts the incoming DE into conventional DC power and integrates fiber splices to facilitate endpoint connections to the communication network.
- Low voltage power cables are used to power the small cells near the enclosure as required and data transmission is done via fiber cables from the enclosure.
Key benefits to this new architecture include:
- CAPEX saving of 40-50%, by removing the need for specialized electrical contractors and speeding deployment time using a single hybrid cable and single power source.
- OPEX saving of 10-15%, through efficient power usage, with less power loss throughout the network (less voltage loss on the smaller copper cables and less voltage up and down conversions) as well as single point of control for maintenance and operations.
- Centralized power management capability to enhance ‘always-on’ network requirements via a “UPS 2.0” backup power architecture. E.g., one DDN headend with one UPS could provide resilient power to up to 72 small cells in a 12.5km2 area.
- Modular design facilitates scalability for future network expansion.
The DDN solution is ideally suited for a variety of technologies including Wi-Fi, DAS, 4G LTE, and 5G across a range of venues and applications.
DDN In Action
The KelTech IoT team have implemented a live version of this architecture with a London client. The design involved the deployment of 60 endpoints, including Wi-Fi small cells on 20 lampposts throughout a 1km2 campus.
The original design, using traditional power delivery, required the installation of a large IP66 enclosure on the lamppost. This enclosure was required to house all the data and power infrastructure needed to service each endpoint and was not an aesthetically pleasing design. An underground solution was not viable due to the size of the enclosure.
By implementing a DDN solution, the bulky enclosure on the lamppost was eliminated. The design removed the need for permanent power on the lamppost for each endpoint, as these were powered instead by the DDN, which was less than one quarter the size of the IP66 enclosure and could be readily placed in the underground chamber. In addition to the aesthetic improvements on the revised design, a centralized UPS and monitoring system was implemented for all lampposts, improving reliability and fault resolution capability.
As demand and standards of new and existing technologies, such as Wi-Fi, DAS, LTE, 4G, 5G and IoT, drive further innovations in small cell communication networks, KelTech IoT’s unique Dual Distributed Network solution, using VoltServer Digital Electricity™ offers a step change in future small cell network deployments.