Vanu is deploying the lowest-power consumption outdoor base stations in the world in Zambia. In the future, this and other base stations could be made even more efficient with coming advances in super-efficient amplifiers—the gadgets that change electrical signals into radio waves. These gadgets are, by far, the largest users of electricity in all base stations.
The next billion cellular connections will come from rural areas in developing markets. However, building the cellular infrastructure in these regions presents radically different challenges from building networks in urban areas:
* The power grid in these areas is unreliable, if it exists at all.
* There is no wired telecom infrastructure to run the network backbone of the cellular network.
* The large distance over poor roads makes site maintenance time consuming and expensive.
* There is little local skilled labor to support the site maintenance.
Base Station Specs
* four kilograms
* connectivity for 1,000 people with each base station
1 TRX 45 watts consumption
2 TRXs 52 watts consumption
* IP Ethernet backhaul
The CompactRAN is the smallest, lightest, lowest power consumption outdoor basestation on the market today. The CompactRAN is in a rugged IP-66 rated outdoor enclosure. Consuming only 50W of power and weighing less than 4 kg this product is ideal for hard to cover outdoor areas such as rural areas in developing markets, spot fill-in on highways or in rugged terrain areas where traditional high sites can only offer spotty coverage. The small for factor this allows for simplified mounting on poles and alternative structures, and eliminates the need to place equipment on the ground.
One destination for the base station is Chaimiaka, a village 115 kilometers from the Zambian capital, Lusaka. The units require a second piece of equipment, known as the backhaul, to handle the connection to the main network. In Chaimiaka, this is done with a microwave transmitter that consumes 25 watts; it links village communications with a traditional base station 17 kilometers away.
In other settings, a satellite connection or fiber backhaul may be used. Powering the base stations and backhaul connections can be done with photovoltaics, batteries, generators, or whatever grid connection may be available.
To achieve the low-power consumption, the company’s main strategy was to use a single software-controlled processer to handle all processing and networking tasks. On typical base stations, these jobs are done by two or three processors.
Two type-N antenna port per outdoor unit
1 TRX 10 watts per TRX
2 TRXs 5 watts per TRX
Receive sensitivity: -110 dBm
SMA antenna port for GPS antenna
850, 900, 1800, or 1900 MHz Band
Capacity: 2 TRX per outdoor unit
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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