Software Defined Radio

Although building out a mobile cellular network has never been exactly “simple,” the complexities faced by today’s mobile providers are multifaceted. When considering network design, especially in the RAN (Radio Access Network), one must balance performance, capacity and economics. The traditional methodologies of creating “single purpose” base station configurations that require discrete hardware, supporting limited wireless standards and frequencies etc. makes changes and upgrades costly and time consuming. Through the utilization of SDR (Software Defined Radio) technologies one can establish a single flexible platform and make any necessary changes without ever having to deploy an engineer. Although there is significant wireless infrastructure deployed, with changing and evolving standards/architectures (e.g. LTE) there is plenty more to come. The global market for RAN equipment remains buoyant with 2009 revenues in excess of $38 billion. Continued growth is forecast over the next 5 years with mobile infrastructure revenues expected to be in the region of $42 billion by 2014 (Dell’Oro Group).

As a software solution, SDR products do not need specialized hardware and can be implemented using COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) computing platforms. As such, the combination of COTs platforms and SDR for base station and other RAN configurations deliver significant benefits for mobile operators.

Improved economics and ROI – COTs platforms utilizing GPPs (general purpose processors) reflect more commoditized pricing. Footprints are smaller and less site visits all combine for cost savings.

Radio upgrades/changes – Frequency changes and/or upgrades to new wireless standards would previously have required fundamental hardware changes. With SDR these changes and feature enhancements can be made easily and remotely.

Flexible capacity – Overall performance is a function of the processor/software combination, therefore new processor introductions and associated software may be implemented simply and economically.

Shared RAN – Site colocation is fairly common, however with SDR’s ability to completely segment a base station it is possible for multiple services, or even providers, to share a single platform. For remote locations this could be the most practical solution.

With SDR replacing previously specialized hardware designs with their multitude of ASICs, DSPs, and FPGAs, general purpose processors are able to manage all the requirements of Base Station Control. Marrying together 12 slot capacity in a 4U footprint with high performance Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processors, Advantech’s award winning UTCA-6302 is the perfect platform for high capacity, cost sensitive base station applications. The UTCA-6302 was selected by, Cambridge, MA based, Vanu®, Inc as the platform for their SDR based Anywave basestation. Advantech’s experience and reputation linked to the flexibility, capacity and performance of the UTCA-6302 provides a best in class solution for base station and other RAN applications

Paul Stevens – Telecom Sector Marketing Director

 

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