Demystifying the electrical needs of 5G networks

Richard Moore, Global Product Manager, Telecom

Like many businesses in today’s economic climate, telecommunication operators are under increasing pressure to seek new ways to save costs. This focus is not solely limited to the purchase of networking equipment, but also over the total lifetime. Simultaneously networks are becoming virtualised, more pervasive and more complex, needing support from operational teams that are often already resource constrained. With the anticipated construction and implementation of 5G networks throughout 2019-2021, the challenges for operators are expected to become even more complex.

According to the major telecom OEMs, the main requirement for 5G networks is the provision of massive capacity and connectivity. As a result it is expected there will be a significant increase in the number of nodes compared to today’s networks, resulting in ultra-dense radio networking. These equipment vendors state it is critical that the infrastructure provides high levels of energy efficiency, as increased data throughputs will require an expanded network, resulting in an increased network energy footprint. The highest levels of energy efficiency are therefore critical to help reduce operational costs, to lower the total cost of ownership, and to assist operators in achieving sustainability targets.

From an RBS (Radio Base Station) perspective, equipment OEMs stress the need for nodes to be plug and play and self-organising in order to limit and ultimately reduce the rollout costs. From a functional perspective, this includes software-defined air interfaces.

A number of new services are expected to be delivered using 5G services, including critical Machine-type Communication (MTC). A much discussed example is critical industry and traffic safety/control, as part of the deployment of autonomous vehicles. To make the delivery of these services possible will require an infrastructure that provides ultra-high reliability and availability.

Moving upwards in the 5G network architecture, it is becoming increasingly clear that the electrical infrastructure requirements are changing considerably compared to previous generations of networks. Within the Base Band Unit hotel we expect that the powering requirements will include AC UPS-based systems, 48VDC DC-based and in some cases both. For Remote Edge sites and Lean Technology Centres (LTC) these are likely to be built exclusively with AC UPS, a domain historically addressed by 48VDC.

Intelligent, highly efficient and low maintenance infrastructure is critical for successful rollouts to ensure “light touch” operation and lowest operational costs. Eaton addresses these demands through a selection of optimised systems including modular and monolithic UPS systems for Edge and LTC sites, high efficiency UPS for Main Technology Centres providing additional value add functions like UPSaaR. This focus continues through to small DC power systems with electronic distribution to specifically support RBS, Points of Presence (POPs) and fibre/xDSL (Digital Subscriber Line) nodes.

Small DC systems with electronic distributions help operators to reduce cost through simplicity of setup and offer benefits that can help reduce cost in-use. They simplify deployment by avoiding the need to think about different circuit breaker values for each item of equipment. This type of distribution can also help to achieve the goal of deploying equipment that is “plug and play” without complex setup.

Telecom networking requirements are changing and so are the expectations for the electrical infrastructure. This mandates a partner that is adaptive, focussed and has solutions already proven for next generation deployments. Eaton is ready for this challenge.

Ericsson [1] and Huawei [2]

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