Energy-lean network

Tuesday, 23 December, 2008

Ericsson’s solar-powered GSM radio base station is providing energy-lean network coverage in remote areas of South America.


There was a requirement for a radio base station to provide high output power, low energy consumption, a small footprint and low weight.

The sites are in remote areas of Suriname where commercial power and roads are very limited. Since material transport is very difficult, sometimes the only way to send the base station to the site is via small planes and/or boats. As a result, the system had to have a small footprint and low weight.

The Digicel Group, a mobile telecommunications operator in the Caribbean, wanted a service that could be built up of lightweight units that could be carried to the site, resulting in simplified installation, faster network rollout and reduced total cost of ownership.

Low power consumption allowed the use of solar panels to power the site. The base station meets these needs with a main-remote concept in which the remote radio is close to the antenna, offering macro coverage with reduced power consumption.

High output power was also critical to allow the operator to offer services in several villages around the site.

The system is based on a remote GSM base station, RBS 2111, which is one in a series of energy-optimised units from Ericsson. It claims a smaller environmental footprint than a standard base station, by consuming up to 50% less energy.

The station offers wide area coverage using a main-remote concept that needs no site floor space. According to the company, the base station’s distributed architecture reduces total site costs and makes rollout easier, and it provides the best available voice quality and complete GPRS/EDGE mobile data support due to the Ericsson BSS feature portfolio.

The station will operate in the 900 MHz frequency band and will cover mainly the Brokopondo lake area.

As part of the agreement, the company will also supply MINI-LINK TN all-outdoor transmission, solar panels and battery backup. Ericsson will also be responsible for network deployment and systems integration.

Modem protective housing (MPH), a low-cost, all-outdoor solution, makes it possible to mount a complete high-performance end or repeater node on a single pole.

The possibility of using two radio units also enables good protection. The MPH has been designed to operate in both high and low temperatures, enabling the unit to be used in a wide range of working conditions.

The company’s solar use allows autonomous sites to be deployed in remote areas that have limited access to the electricity grid. It helps reduce costs by cutting energy-related operating and maintenance costs.

“This deal marks an important milestone and we are proud to implement the first solar solution in South America. Energy efficiency is a key factor for network optimisation: it helps lower total cost of ownership and enables operators to bring affordable communications to subscribers,” Sergio Quiroga da Cunha, president of Ericsson in northern Latin America, said.

This deployment follows a series of initiatives from the company to optimise the energy efficiency of mobile networks by creating systems that reduce environmental impact and lower operator costs.

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