Networking provider CommScope has demonstrated its vision for the future of in-building wireless connectivity with the introduction of a new all-digital platform.
Called CommScope Era, the innovation is a C-RAN antenna system that aims to centralise baseband processing and virtualised network functions in order to deliver more efficient and flexible operations.
The platform allows operators to deploy a centralised head-end that is capable of serving multiple buildings, and can also tap into capacity from the operator's existing radio access network hubs.
Era is able to route baseband capacity to a specified distribution point within the served building or campus, allocating baseband capacity where it is most needed at any given time. It also reduces the amount of onsite head-end equipment and the amount of fibre needed to transport signals by up to 90 per cent compared with previous solutions.
Matt Melester, senior vice-president at CommScope's Distributed Coverage and Capacity Solutions division, said: "We have invested heavily to create an all-digital platform architecture that upends the economics of in-building wireless and ushers in a new era and standard for distributed antenna systems."
He added that Era will be a "key enabler for network densification" for wireless technologies including LTE Advanced, Gigabit LTE and 5G.
The Era platform features a new family of access points that are designed to serve a wide variety of venue types. Networking professionals will be able to select options from a range of power levels, with either copper or fibre connectivity and outdoor and plenum ratings. The fact it relies on IT-standard copper and fibre-optic infrastructure means that it can operate using existing fibre networks, which significantly reduces fibre costs and makes the technology easy to deploy.
Era also supports interleaved MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) using patented technology that can offer up to 80 per cent of colocated MIMO speeds over a SISO (single input/single output) infrastructure.
The platform utilises an all-digital architecture, which enables capabilities that would not be possible with analogue DAS alternatives. For example, capacity reallocation, soft re-sectorisation, system setup and diagnostics are all software functions in Era that can be managed with just a few clicks of a mouse. Era also delivers Gigabit Ethernet backhaul to each remote node, where it can then be used for separate Wi-Fi networks, IP security systems or to support future network expansion.
Kyung Mun, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, observed that systems such as CommScope Era are responding to increased demand from network operators for options that help make in-building wireless more affordable for building owners and commercial real estate companies.
He added: "Driving down costs and barriers to in-building wireless implementation will be critical for supporting the emerging demand for connected smart buildings."