Home > Broadband, Femtocell > Strand Mounted public access femtocell, NaN & PicoChip

Strand Mounted public access femtocell, NaN & PicoChip

Strand mounted femtocell ecosystem will be one of the biggest deployment of femtocell based coverage blanket that will deliver 4G signal ubiquitously. This is neither a ‘new’ concept nor an innovative solution, as it has been used by Muni wireless providers for blanket Wi-Fi coverage in metro areas. These femtocells will share the space and the power with multiple other uses – surveillance, power grid monitoring, traffic cameras, etc. These femtocells will have different names – Local Area BTS, Metro-Femto etc and will operate with different technologies – UMTS, LTE and WiMAX and will take design and deployment to the next level. A regular Monopole or a rooftop has to pass through different stages of search ring, zoning and site acquisition modes, whereas an electric utility company can bypass all this and give access to a telecom provider to support this kind of deployment due to a different class of RF propagation limitations.
This kind of Femtocell will leverage both network power as well as Ethernet backhaul for data either on copper or fiber. It requires a voltage converter with an optional integrated DSL or fiber optic media converter that provides a simple, scalable, and low cost solution to the problem of delivering reliable power and Internet broadband connectivity to field mounted electronic equipment. For outdoor Wireless Access Points, Femtocells, outdoor surveillance cameras, traffic control devices, electronic displays, or any other outdoor equipment needing easily installed reliable power and/or Internet connectivity.

Another concept that is interesting is Broadband over power lines (BPL) which never really took off due to many concerns including reduction of the number of radio frequencies available for ham and short-wave radio operators and that RF transmission over unshielded medium-voltage lines will cause interference with already-assigned frequencies. BPL has not been standardized by IEEE or any other organization. But BPL as a backhaul solution for Femtocells can be considered in rural areas where there is no access to Fiber or DSL providers.
Femtocell deployment can also be clubbed together with Smartgrid deployment which integrates a Wide Area Network (WAN) for distribution and a Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) for metering. NAN as a concept for smart metering has been around for a while, and will be leveraged for coverage by wireless network operators.

Neighborhood Area Network (NAN)
Completing a practical broadband access network alternative comparable to cable or DSL for residence, remote/small business, and public service environments requires the realization of multi-tier diffuse-field wireless networks that functionally-parallel and interwork with their wired multi-tier counterparts. Fortunately, the sophistication and economy of radio systems have at last progressed to permit consideration of multi-tier approaches that can augment the established paradigm of wireless links that extend exclusively from a wired network POP directly to a device.  Like wired networks, each component of a multi-tier wireless network must be designed to meet a specific demand, Shannon envelope, and capital affordability to establish a complete performance- and cost-effective broadband access network supporting Ethernet-like user expectations.  Current network paradigms, such as LANs and MANs, already provide means to effectively extend networking toward the backbone from devices, and toward devices from the backbone, respectively.  However, a critical segment is missing from a practical, complete tiered structure: Neighborhood Area Networks or NANs.  NANs are characterized by outdoor diffuse-field coverage areas smaller than MANs and larger than LANs, hosting fixed or nomadic links from moderate AP heights such as street utility structures.

What is a NAN?

  • Primarily outdoor operation
  • “Nanocells” (~1000’ radius)
  • Low base antenna height (~18’)
  • Mostly nomadic or fixed terminations
  • Small Termination Group (100-300 typ.)
  • High per-termination capacity (e.g. 10BT)
  • Strong QoS, Throughput Grooming/Controls
  • “Access + Distribution” Mentality
  • New Layout Paradigms

–        Fusion of statistical and ray-traced coverage models

–        Mix of stereoscopic photography, GPS-aided base placements

–        Automated network formation

–        Automated spectrum use

–        Wired-like Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Silicon is the main building block for femtocells and the ecosystem around it only evolves when a country allocates spectrum to a particular operator or standard, femtocell OEMs start developing a new product for that particular market. This means that they require a new baseband IC, RF transceiver IC, power amplifier, associated filters, passives, and antenna and the problem here is that developing new ICs for the new standard or frequencies could take typically two to three years, from conception to volume production. Deployment of femtocells in various markets is thus limited by the time it takes for the silicon vendors to develop new chipsets.

Hence the market becomes ecstatic when such a development occurs! PicoChip unveiled the PC333, the first chip specifically designed to extend the femtocell into the realm of public access infrastructure such as metro femto, rural femto and strand-mounted systems. The PC333 System-on-Chip (SoC) device is the first femtocell chip to support 32 channels (scalable to 64) for simultaneous voice and HSPA+ data, the first to support MIMO, the first to support soft-handover and the first to conform to the Local Area Basestation (LABS) standard, enabling higher performance than any other femtocell solution. Building on the success of the industry-standard PC302 and PC312 products for cost-effective residential systems, this further extends picoChip’s leadership in the femtocell market. The PC333 enables small basestations for urban hot-spots, city-centers or public access to be made and deployed at a cost far lower than traditional approaches, radically changing the economics of network infrastructure.

The PC333 is the highest-specification femtocell available, and represents a significant step in bringing a complete 3GPP Release 8 Local Area 42Mbps HSPA+ basestation onto a single-chip. LABS is the 3GPP definition for systems with higher performance than home-basestations, allowing higher capacity, 120km/h mobility and +24dBm output power for greater than 2km range. The PC333 supports 32 channels, each with both voice and HSPA+ data and, with picoChip’s smartSignaling™ technology, in excess of 400 simultaneous smartphone users. Two of the devices can also be cascaded to support 64 active channels. Sampling in 4Q2010 to lead customers, the PC333 builds upon the feature set of picoChip’s industry-leading picoXcell PC3xx family of products and offers customers a seamless migration path with full pin and code-compatibility. With the launch of the PC333, picoChip offers the industry’s most complete femtocell product line-up, ranging from the most cost-effective residential and enterprise to now support metro, rural and public access systems.

“Someday, all basestations will be made like this,” asserted Doug Pulley, CTO of picoChip. “The success of our other devices, shipping in high-volumes to carriers around the world, demonstrates the robustness of our modems. With the PC333 we have extended the parameters of femtocell performance to levels that would traditionally have been considered as ‘picocell’ or even ‘microcell’. This high performance coupled with zero-touch provisioning means carriers can routinely deploy femtocells as part of their wide-area network rollouts. We are already seeing the emergence of femtocells into rural and metropolitan-area basestations; the PC333 redefines the way femtocells are used and networks themselves are architected, leading to the dramatic growth of the basestation market.”

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