Steve Libbey, VP of Sales | March 5, 2018

In Pyeongchang, South Korea, the future of telecom is being unveiled as the Winter Olympics will be home to not only the peak of athletic competition, but also the first official deployment of 5G. Yet in the USA, many operators are still looking to upgrade their CDMA networks to more capable LTE. It is a challenge that plagues many carriers: how to cost-effectively upgrade their CDMA networks?

One of the main challenges isn’t just the initial investment, but more so, it is the ongoing cost to maintain a network. Rental fees, high power consumption, cost of backhaul, operation of ancillary equipment in the cabinet… all this adds up to millions of additional fees annually that operators must consider. These costs are further increased by purchasing new equipment that is required for a migration to LTE. This brings in the additional expense of installation as well. In such a competitive market, these costly upgrades are not optional, they are mandatory.

The solution to these challenges lies in not just cost-effective hardware, but also intelligent software that can optimize both the installation process as well as the ongoing maintenance of the network.

On the RAN side, innovation must take place that reduces the power consumption as well as the cell site. Doing so would reduce networks’ OPEX by driving down ongoing energy bills and rental fees for tower space. Innovation to the hardware that would allow BBU, RRH, edge router, etc. to be housed on the same form factor would also cut down on costs because the need for a cabinet would be eliminated. Providing the operators with the choice to use economical backhaul options in remote regions would further save on costs since the need for expensive fiber would be greatly diminished.

Having low-cost hardware, however, is only one aspect to the larger problem of ongoing management, optimization, and upgrades; a truly innovative solution will provide not only low-cost hardware, but would also simplify installation and maintenance. Using the principles of SDN and NFV, operators could virtualize essential network functions on a network controller which would enable real-time network adjustments, such as self-configuration and self-optimization capabilities. Virtualizing these capabilities would make installation and management of the network easier and more cost-effective. By virtualizing this network controller, operators would also make their networks 5G-ready as the network would become software-upgradeable and could work with any core, 4G or 5G.

Although 5G deployments have already begun, there are many end-users still using CDMA technologies, despite the limited shelf life of these networks. As a result, service providers are stuck between a rock and a hard place as they are faced with the burden of addressing the needs of their legacy customers while trying to upgrade their existing infrastructure, both of which can require significant investments. To meet these needs, service providers operating CDMA networks must explore cost-effective options that would allow for a seamless and financially feasible migration to LTE. By reducing the ongoing costs of energy, site acquisition, and network management, while also reducing the time to install and cost of hardware, operators can cost-effectively rollout LTE without investing millions. The economical approach is to innovate on the hardware side by reducing power consumption as well as the site footprint while also exploring virtualization solutions that can enable self-configuration and hands-free maintenance. Doing so would not only please both end-users as well as stakeholders, but would also improve operators’ bottom lines.

Parallel Wireless has been working in the virtualized RAN (vRAN) space since their inception in 2012. As a result, they are industry leaders in SDN and NFV with their RAN controller, HetNet Gateway, having been recognized with dozens of industry awards. Coupled with their award-winning, low-cost, low power hardware (CWS), their experience in enabling cost-effective networks is unparalleled.