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RAN Sharing - New Paradigm for LTE

RAN Sharing - New Paradigm for LTE

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Published by Harish Vadada
Network sharing models
Network sharing models

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Harish Vadada on Mar 31, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/17/2013

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RAN sharing
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 –new paradigm for LTE| HVadad
H
ARISH
V
ADADA
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LOG
3/30/2011
 
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www.telecom-cloud.netPlease share andgive me feedback
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Network sharing or Radio Access Network sharing between two or more operators will become a realityin near future as ARPU trend decreases, CAPEX(Capital Expenditure)and spectrum costs becomespeculative. The time is coming when operators have to decide toeither evolve or go out of businessbeing swallowed by bigger rivals. The days when a voice centric network paid for itself in time are gone,as the data-centric networks evolve it has to be supplemented with value added services like apps,faster download speeds, etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do multiple things with our phones –monitor our home, watch Football, control home appliances, monitor kids, be on top of work email,control our work computers, GPS, do video chat on-demand and all of the above at one flat rate! This isgoing to be the reality in the next 5-7 years as vendors are looking to provide these services incollaboration with the operators and smart phones.What does this mean for an operator? More fatter pipes, new investments on hardware infrastructureupgrades, more space, more power and above all more capacity in terms of bandwidth and spectrum.So the path now for an operator would be to either chose the upgrade path or become obsolete. Isthere a third way a middle ground that mitigates spending so much for infrastructure investments, wellit comes in the form of a sharing agreement, where Operator A shares the network or other resourceswith Operator B, as pooled resources mean greater reach in terms of capacity and coverage.Why do we need RAN sharing or for that matter any network-sharing models?
Capacity
Ironically, there is much talk of an impending spectrum crisis, an alleged shortage of spectrum forcellular networks. A survey commissioned by NSF in 2005 concluded thatradio spectrum isunderutilized; they found only 5.2% ofthe spectrum occupied in the range from 30 MHz to 3000MHz.And how can there be a spectrumshortage?There is a contradiction that theproblem at hand is not the lack of spectrum but because it is soinefficiently used. Pockets of spectrum are quite heavily used -forexample, the cell phone andspecialized mobile radio (SMR) band(a narrow band from 806 MHz to902 MHz) is 46.3% utilized in NewYork City; while other bands arebarelyused at all. Cognitive radiosseem like one approach to providemore efficient usage of thespectrum. It might be argued that
 
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there is, in fact, not really a shortage of capacity. It's simply off limits to most users, most of the time.Switch on a cell-phone in most locations in the world and you can see 5-10 different cellular networks,and several Wi-Fi networks. However, most users can only use one of the visible cellular networks,constrained by the contract they are locked into. Nearby Wi-Fi networks are usually off-limits too,because they are secured by their owners.If we really want to give users access to the abundant wire-less capacity around them, why don't wemake it easier by design and by policy for a mobile client to move freely between the spectrum, andnetworks, owned by different cellular and Wi-Fi providers? While this approach is clearly counter tocurrent business practices and would require cellular providers to exchange access to their networksmore freely than they do today. I believe it is worth exploring because of the much greater efficiencies itwould bring; and the much greater capacity that could be made available to end users. Interestingly, aseveral-fold increase in capacity could be made available for little or no additionalinfrastructure cost.Here are some thought provoking ways to increase capacity –
Capacity through more efficient statistical sharing
-MNOstend to heavily over-provision their networkin order to handle times of peak load and congestion. Most of the time, the network is lightly loaded. If instead they were able to hand interaction witheach other or from cellular to Wi-Finetworks, then theirtraffic load would be smoother, and their network more efficient. For example, what if AT&T could re-route trafficfrom their iPhone users to T-Mobile during an overload? Or T-Mobile could reroute theircustomers' flows to a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot?
Exploit differences in technologies and frequency bands
-Mobile technologies such as EVDO and HSPAprovide wide area coverage with consistent bandwidth guarantees; while technologies like Wi-Fi providehigh bandwidth and low latency. Lower frequencies provide better coverage and penetration; whilehigher frequencies provide better spatial reuse. Being able to use the most appropriate technology forthe application at hand would make best use of capacity available. For example, a backup whereintermittent connectivity is tolerable can be done via Wi-Fi where higher throughput is possible.
Open up new sources of capacity
-The ability to move between networks also opens up new sources of capacity. For example, one can now use a network such as that of fon.com to supplement their mainnetwork, without having to deploy an extensive Wi-Fi network.Such crowd-sourcing can be a powerful tool to cover dead spots and relieve congestion. Throughmobility across networks, we create a network with heterogeneous wireless technologies by “stitchingtogether" the multitude of wireless networks available today. But the biggest and most significant wayto impact networks real-time would be to pool the network resources and use them as needed.
Cost Savings
Significant cost savings is the main driver for RAN sharing models. The graphs below illustrate a typicalCAPEX/OPEX for developed markets.

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