CommScope: ‘2020 will deliver the 5G promise’

5G requires more high-powered, RRUs and, in some regions, a shift to massive MIMO architecture, says CommScope

BARCELONA–The implementation of 5G requires more radio units, more cell sites, more power. But at the same time, operators are looking for solutions that have minimal impact on existing network infrastructure. This can be a difficult balance to strike. According to CommScope Director of technical sales Colin Bryce, 2020 is 5G’s year, and for its part, the network infrastructure provider has announced a round of recent products designed to help operators achieve smarter, faster 5G implementation.

“Operators want to deploy 5G antennas on sites that already support multiple technologies and frequency bands—with minimal impact to existing site infrastructure,” Bryce told RCR Wireless News. “CommScope is meeting this challenging demand with a comprehensive antennae lineup that integrates multiple technologies and features such as high port count, multiple arrays, multiple frequency beamformers, as well as support for Time Division Duplex (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplex (FDD).”

The narrow-width antennas, which come in multiple lengths and bands, add capacity to sites with zoning restrictions or where structural loading is limited can be particularly challenging. Further, the new CommScope antenna are the only ones in the industry to offer 4 mid-band arrays for 43 cm and 3 mid-band arrays in 39 cm, allowing operators to attach more radios to a single antenna.

Bryce also explained that rolling out 5G requires more high-powered, remote radio units (RRUs) and, in some regions, a shift to massive MIMO architecture. In addition, the higher-wattage remote radio unites require thicker, more expensive copper cables.

He went on to explain that CommScope’s plug-and-play dc power supply PowerShift eliminates the need for a tower-top converter.

“Put simply, PowerShift optimizes the transmission of electrical power by regulating voltage at the RRU or remote. PowerShift also increases the amount of time a battery backup runs, allowing RRUs to stay active up to 35% longer in the event of a power outage,” he said.

The PowerShift is a single-rack unit, supporting up to 2,000 wattage per circuit, with power connectors in the front.

Bryce also discussed the state of standalone 5G, offering that pre-commercial technology demos have already been taking place, and operators, particularly in the U.S., are eyeing initial launches in 2020.

“However,” he added, “real-world mass rollouts are probably two or three years away in most markets. Power and backhaul are limiting factors, and CommScope is working on solutions to mitigate both of these issues.”

2020, though, will still be a big year for connectivity, according to Bryce. On the Wi-Fi side of things, he said that Wi-Fi 6 access point shipments will increase across multiple and diverse verticals such as healthcare, education and hospitality to support high-bandwidth applications including 4K video, eSports, AR/VR, facial recognition and public safety.

“Wi-Fi 6 APs, which support up to a four-fold capacity increase over preceding Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 APs, are expected to represent the majority of access points shipping by the end of 2020,” he stated. “Multiple Wi-Fi 6 APs deployed in dense device environments can collectively deliver required quality-of-service to more clients with more diverse usage profiles.”

And when it comes to 5G, Bryce explained that a successful, cost-effect implementation requires both passive and active radio solutions in sub-6 GHz spectrum bands that are capable of utilizing FDD and Time Division Duplex TDD band plans, and that operators must consider a number of tradeoffs and factors including performance versus cost, EMF emissions and deployment constraints.

He added that while network operators still have a lot of work to do to “make 5G technology live up to its full potential,” CommScope truly believes that “2020 will be the year that network operators put the pieces into place to deliver the 5G promise.”

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