Coping With Dense Outdoor Environments Like Urban Canyons

One frustrating experience is all too common. You’re trusting Google Maps to deliver you, on time, to an important meeting in the city's central business district. You turn the corner only to find a massive high-rise blocking your signal. Your timely arrival at that important meeting is now in doubt.

Fortunately, intelligent network planning and signal transport resolve the challenges of the urban canyon. Today, it is possible to transform dense outdoor environments into oases of high-capacity connectivity.

Deployment in Dense Outdoor Environments

The delivery of wireless speed and capacity in urban canyons requires:

  • An infrastructure supportive of 5G NR
  • Devotion to fiber-to-the edge technology
  • Software-based solutions minimizing “rip and replace”
  • Use of open, flexible, standards-based equipment

Fiber-to-the-edge is key in coping with issues related to network densification. To achieve a software-based solution, it’s important to virtualize as many network elements as possible. The use of vRAN supportive of a standards-based signal source is key. It will allow for faster, easier agreements and enhanced management capability.

Growing demand for 5G will drive cooperation. The open, standards-based approach promoted by the O-RAN Alliance will help address this need. Clean builds follow constructive collaboration between major operators. 

Otherwise, there will be too much equipment deployed in urban canyons. As it is, the 5G era will require small cell densification on an unprecedented scale. It is estimated that it will require approximately 1 million small cell sites. Compare this to the 300,000 existing cell sites.

Network Densification: Challenges & Concerns

Network densification strategies require success in:

  • Making 4G and 5G work together
  • Ensuring the coexistence of indoor and outdoor wireless services
  • Overcoming NIMBY
  • Successful integration of outdoor antennas and architectural elements
  • Allaying concerns about RF radiation

Although the buzz around 5G is certainly legitimate, it’s safe to say 4G will be around for a long time. In fact, I think you’ll see new 4G deployments for years to come. Therefore, it's important to see to it that 4G and 5G systems work well together. 

There are challenges associated with mmWave signal propagation in urban canyons. Both beamforming and the use of multiple antennas help to deliver desired coverage. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to install equipment on light poles, rooftops, strand and utility poles. It is important to camouflage outdoor antennas for the sake of architectural integrity.

At SOLiD, we find that it is possible to deliver robust, widespread coverage while controlling capital expenditures. 

Potential of mmWave

Newly available millimeter wave frequencies (mmWave) will help meet the demand for wireless speed and capacity in urban canyons, stadiums, arenas and airports. Thanks to very high frequencies in the 30-300 GHz range, users enjoy low-latency, gigabit performance.

Going forward, IoT, HD video, multimedia content, cars and wearables will all drive demand for low latency signals and consistent quality. CBRS, mmWave and LAA are all cost-effective ways to deliver service that meets expectations.

Planning for the Future

Those responsible for wireless connectivity should prepare for inevitable 5G upgrades in the future. They should develop an infrastructure supportive of 5G NR. To simplify future upgrades, it is important to commit to fiber-to-the-edge technology. It is also important to install open, standards-based equipment and to choose software-based solutions whenever possible.

About Us

At SOLiD, we help our customers enhance LTE and build out 5G in an efficient and cost-effective manner. We are already aligned with 5G NR specifications. We are developing innovative mmWave-based infrastructure to speed 5G deployment. Learn more by viewing the RCR Webinar, “Network Densification: Turning Urban Canyons into Wireless Oases.”

The SOLiD team believes in the tremendous possibilities of a fantastically connected world. We drive extreme edge connectivity via fiber optic transport, DAS and IoT. Our equipment is already found in more than 2,000 premier venues and buildings around the world. SOLiD led the way with the world's first 5G deployments when we installed 5G repeaters across Seoul, South Korea. 

For a prompt, expert assessment of your needs, please contact us today!