Beamforming and 5G

Energy Flows where focus goes.

The move to 5G is a revolutionary change in evolution of mobile networks. We’re at a point where we’re moving away from cell centric coverage objective to a user centric network. Up to 4G, ensuring coverage and capacity to a geographical area was the primary goal, this was essentially accomplished by blasting the RF Signal with the intended coverage area using OMNI directional antennas. Cell sectorization enabled the increase of subscriber capacity by replacing Omni-directional antenna’s by 3 or 6 sector Antenna’s, each sector with its own set of frequencies to essentially multiply the capacity by 3X/6X.

With 5G, we’re moving away from the coverage-based network to a user focused network. This is achieved by the usage of Massive-MIMO systems utilizing beamforming.

5G systems utilizing Massive-MIMO provides some inherent advantages

1. Highly focused beams help combatting effects of Fading.
2. Cell edge users can see significant improvement in performance.

On paper 5G’s, user centric network will have the following impact

• Downlink capacity increase by 5X.
• Over 200% increase in connections/cell.
• Upto 80% decrease in Signaling overhead.
• Network latency below 10 ms.
• Upto 4X increase in spectral efficiency.
• Total Throughput increase by 5X.

5G beamforming performance is impacted by a bunch of factors including temperature, humidity, penetration losses and these needs to be tested in real world on the available antennas. Each channel element must be tested for Frequency, Phase and Amplitude adjustment, for a mix of Indoor-Outdoor scenarios.

Questions facing Beamforming

Beamforming is a complex technology which has been possible because of advancements in signal processing, this requires proper validation and testing before promises of 5G gains are realized. It is estimated that by 2024, 63 % of mobile subscribers are expecting to be on 5G. With such an explosive growth trajectory, operators need methods to ensure that the CAPEX dollars going towards their network expansion deliver the best bang for the buck. The promises that the operators make to the subscribers for all the gains and services promised can be realized.

Here are some of the Questions operators are facing.

1. Fixed Wireless or Mobile?

Operators are looking at fixed mobility network as an alternative to home internet services. A Tier-1 Mobile Operator in US has started fixed mobility wireless in select markets. With 5G NR providing new sources of revenue and increased ARPU, 5G will finally create meaningful alternative to the last mile internet in markets which lack any competition.

2. How do the different vendors perform?

With development for 5G happening before all the specs are written down, all vendors have different implementations for beam steering features. Although all vendor’s promise performance gains better than their competitors, operators must test and evaluate their performance based on their individual spectrum, bands and geography. Carriers will need to test out the solutions from different vendors, investigate, develop and create their network specific best practices to maximize what the equipment manufacturers have to offer.

3. How effective is beamforming?

The promise of 5G gains with improved throughput, latency etc and the user centric network needs to ensure that the narrow beams focused towards the user are physically feasible from both the UE side as well as the eNodeB. These beams will require having the ability to steer the beams in Horizontal and Vertical axis. A poorly shaped beam will completely kill the link budget and hence performance, Beam-Centric optimization will be required to quickly identify and fix root cause issues.

 

TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company with over 20 year’s expertise in RF Design and Optimization understands the needs of network operators and has developed tools and services to help network operators help solve their most pressing issues.

• Solutions – Innovation, efficiency and expertise has been always the defining course in TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company approach to design, integrate and optimize wireless systems.  As TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company commit to meet the demands of 5G rollout and existing LTE networks, continues to provide Mobile Network Operators with packaged, turn-key solutions and expert services. RF Assurance, Performance Assurance Group, RF Network Design, In-Building Services, Optimization Services, Benchmarking Data Collection are some of the solutions provided by the company’s world class experienced engineers.

• Products – TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company has developed IMNOS a web based fully customizable and scalable tool for helping network operators Plan and Optimize their network in a wholistic manner. IMNOS is a single unified platform for network visualization, integrating network data with Big Data Analytics and is ready to support LTE and 5G network components. IMNOS – Mobile trace is a mobile data collection tool and data management service that helps data collection measurement, data management and reporting.

5G Services – Currently TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company  is supporting carriers towards their 5G deployment efforts with the following services.

5G RF design

  • picking the right radio module, dimensioning the required Baseband capacity
  • TAC planning

5G Port Matrix

  • mapping Antenna/COVP/fiber/Baseband ports
  • suggesting correct cable types and count
  • providing expected losses
  • synchronization mapping
  • RET naming, mapping and suggestions

E911: Prepare site for E911 validation and readiness

CIQ: Request IP and RF CIQ for 5G parameters

SCF Preparation and troubleshooting

  • Requesting IP and follow CSR standard port assignments
  • Support market(s) with 5G cold start to enable market for 5G readiness
  • Troubleshoot 5G sites with FOPS and adapt standard MOP as per market’s available HW resources
  • Modify the generic 5G SCF templates
     VLAN id
     Primary and secondary IP
     NTP IP
     Modify synchronization from GPS to sync direct hub (SDHF)
     MRBTS id and 5G TAC

 

Ravi Bachani
TTS Wireless / An Amdocs Company

References

  1. Ericsson Mobility Report June 2019
  2. 5G Beamforming technology is key to Network and device experiences by Sean Kinney, RCR Wireless 03/19
  3. Ericsson Technology Review

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