TE Connectivity combining power, fiber into one system for small cell backhaul

A major problem impacting small cell placement is that there is often no power in the location where a carrier wants to locate a small cell, or if there is power, it can only be delivered following complicated negotiations with building owners, utility companies or municipalities. TE Connectivity is trying to tackle those issues with a new system that combines a power supply and optical fiber communications into a single system, eliminating the need for local power to small cells.  

TE said its powered fiber cable system offers a reach greater than 10 times the distance of power over Ethernet (POE+) cables, making it easier to place small cells exactly where they are needed.

The system also includes a remote powering unit that corrects for DC line loss to eliminate the need for electrical design calculations.

According to the company, remote powering units can be factory terminated onto the hybrid cable with exactly the correct connectors for a given small cell. "To place a small cell exactly where it is needed, the customer simply plugs in the connector, mounts the remote powering unit, and installs the cable back to the power supply located up to 1km away. The system is designed to act as a 'long extension cord,'" it said.

Because the system is designed for low-power DC transmission (NEC Class II), it should eliminate the need for highly skilled electricians. "Coordinating electricians in and out of buildings is expensive, and negotiating with building owners is complex," said Mark Hesling, TE's vice president of global product management.

The Minneapolis-based company estimates that the new system can slash up-front planning and engineering time for many small cell deployments by 50 percent or more.

Massive small cell rollouts that were envisioned just a few years ago have been stymied by the cost and the complexity of deployments and challenges in integrating small cells into existing wireless networks. However, Infonetics has forecast the global small cell market will grow at a 48 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2012 to 2017, to $2.4 billion

ABI Research has predicted that the market for small cell backhaul equipment will grow to more than $5 billion in 2018, up from $487 million for 2013 and representing a 48 percent CAGR. LTE small cell solutions will drive most of the microwave and fiber backhaul growth in metropolitan, urban and suburban areas, with backhaul for LTE small cells reaching a value of $3.1 billion in 2018, growing at two times the rate for 3G and surpassing 3G in 2016, ABI said.

For more:
- see this TE Connectivity release

Related articles:
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Madden: Small cells- the SoC and the stack
Jarich: 10 things I hate about small cells
Mobile operators draw a new small cell order in 2014
ABI: LTE small cells driving backhaul growth
Verizon's rumored demands may help explain small cell slowdown

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