Small cell, big impact: powering 5G deployment

Eaton Industries Pty Ltd

By Darren Salter
Wednesday, 09 September, 2020



Innovative technology will be needed to ensure 5G networks not only have access to uninterrupted power but can handle extreme amounts of data processing.

5G deployment is gaining momentum globally, promising ultra-low latency, fast speeds and a mind-bending amount of new connections. This new frontier of telecommunications opens an infinite amount of digital possibilities.

However, the relationship between connectivity and power quality is critical to the success of high-speed networks. Put simply, 5G must have power to operate. No power, no 5G.

The cost of powering 5G is one of the biggest challenges for network operators rolling out new networks and if 5G is implemented in a similar way to previous generations, reaching 5G true potential may not be possible for Australia.

While Australia’s largest telecommunications companies are already offering 5G capabilities in selected areas connecting consumer 5G handsets, 2021 is going to see an acceleration in network upgrades.

What 4G did for consumer devices, 5G will deliver revolutionary applications in all new markets including industrial, automotive, medical and even defence.

With that, power failures or any network interruptions are not an option. Across the network massive amounts of data processing at the edge in real time is required to support small cells essential to the millimetre wave radio network.

Rolling out 5G is complex and presents a unique challenge for telco providers. Innovative technology and applications will need to be leveraged to ensure the network not only has access to uninterrupted power but can withstand extreme amounts of data processing and demand.

In Australia, Eaton is uniquely positioned with its power management heritage, network operator relationships and technologies designed to flatten the energy curve.

It has been widely reported that a 5G network may consume anyway up to three times as much for a base station that is deploying a mix of radios.

What about energy efficiency?

To meet the needs of telco operators, Eaton have taken traditional designs and shrunk them down into what’s called a small cell. Small cells are smaller and cheaper than a cell tower and can be installed in a variety of areas, bringing more base stations closer to the edge.

To accelerate 5G small cell deployment, Eaton has engineered the Outdoor Pole Solution 2 (OPS2) with energy saving highly efficient rectification and remote-control capability enabling network operators to build denser networks, meet performance demands and maintain low energy consumption.

Network densification through small cells is essential for the successful rollout of 5G and will be central to almost all future requirements for digital connectivity.

Eaton has been a major supplier of telecom power to Australia’s largest telecom operators — and around the world — in excess of 20 years.

The OPS2 is a 48-volt DC power system with options for battery backup that can be pole mounted to support 4G and 5G remote radio units, as well as potentially support CCTV and industrial IoT equipment.

Traditionally, these power systems were inside a building. Over time, they’ve moved from buildings to cabinets on kerbsides. Now, at an even smaller point the power system is up a pole or on the side of a building closer to the network equipment that it’s supporting.

As you move into a 5G network there can be hundreds of powered devices per square kilometre. A power system like this needs full remote control and remote monitoring so network operation centres have full visibility. Eaton’s OPS2 has an inbuilt web server and supports remote operations.

Lighting up a 5G network does not have to mean a massive increase in energy consumption. Eaton’s solution allows network operators to build on existing deployments with smart power back-up technology that uses energy-saving hardware and optimising operating site infrastructure.

5G will be the network of the future, and it’s being built by engineers today to enhance the world we live in for the better.

Darren Salter is Product Line Manager, Power Quality APAC for Eaton.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/metamorworks

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