Published on February 28, 2014
The growth of the mobile Internet has been more dramatic than any pundit could have imagined. Fueled by the iPhone and other smartphones, enthusiastic mobile Internet users have turned to email, video, Internet surfing and mobile apps in such overwhelming numbers that several significant network crashes have occurred. This has spurred carriers to quickly update their networks on two fronts: first, by moving to 4G high-speed wireless technology, which is specifically designed to support mobile Internet use; and second, by augmenting existing macrocells with small cells to bring coverage to wherever users are. Even before complete rollout, it has become clear that 4G network deployments will not keep pace with future mobile broadband demand. Additionally, the high bandwidth of this technology means a shorter signal range due to attenuation, which leaves gaps or poor coverage in areas that had strong coverage in previous generations. One of the major emerging strategies to address these network issues is a heterogeneous topology that augments base station macrocells with smaller base stations known as picocells. Picocells can be placed indoors where signals are weak, or outdoors in areas of poor reception or high usage. In-Stat predicts that small cell shipments will surpass 15 million units by 2013. Already, femtocells (small base stations meant for home or small business use) are increasingly utilized as a way to extend coverage in residences, and picocells (base stations that are meant to cover commercial areas) have the same potential for larger indoor buildings and outdoor locations. Small cells mounted on outdoor poles, the sides of buildings, or deployed inside malls, offices, sporting arenas or other buildings must provide a compact, inconspicuous, and environmentally responsible solution. The power system for these small cells must complement these considerations, particularly because they must often fit into very small cabinets. This makes power density and modularity vitally important criteria. Additionally, the cramped quarters and proximity to residences and businesses often
means only fans can be used for cooling rather than air conditioning systems; thus, the power supply must be highly efficient so as to produce minimal heat during operation. Remote control of the DC power system is also a critical requirement because of the large number of small cells that are needed in the network. Service technicians must have Internet access to rectifier control systems to check system health and to determine if a failure has occurred. These conditions and requirements outline a specific design for powering small cell network deployments—a power puzzle solved by Eltek Valere. As an all-in-one solution, the small cell cabinet includes not just communications equipment but also the power supply and up to two hours of battery backup—all packed in a single, compact, lightweight, pole-mounted enclosure (Figure 1). The Eltek Valere Micropack Power System (Figure 2), which has already proven its efficiency and reliability in other telecommunication power applications, lends itself perfectly to the unique power requirements of small cells. Because the Micropack scales from 250W up to 1000W, it is an excellent solution for broadband extension and other high-speed data and telecom applications associated with 4G. Designed for smaller loads, yet equipped with broad functionality, the complete system measures only 3.5”H (2U) x max. 5.9”D (incl. DIN rail), enabling it to fit well in the tight, confined spaces of 3G and 4G small cell Figure 1 – Pole-mounted enclosure cabinets. The Micropack power system includes the Micropack 250W rectifier, the Compack controller and distribution options. The rectifier is the “heart” of a DC power system, and Eltek Valere devotes much of its R&D efforts to the development of new state-of-the-art
designs, which have the quality and functionality expected in modern telecommunication networks. Designed for onsite configuration and assembly, the Micropack rectifier allows fast and efficient logistics and flexibility. The Compack controller is a plug-in unit that provides compact, comprehensive functionality and is well suited for small range power systems. It automatically monitors key battery conditions--like temperature--and modifies its charging parameters to optimize battery performance; it can be monitored either locally or via the web. These components work together to minimize operational costs for carriers. Temperature considerations are important for small cell power supplies, and Micropack features a convection cooling method that is built for reliability, especially in harsh environments. The battery distribution is configurable with plug-in style breakers, battery connection terminals and low voltage battery disconnect (LVBD) for optimal battery backup. Figure 2 – Micropack Power System A top tier U.S. carrier recently deployed more than 750 picocells to fill out its network in New York City, Los Angeles and several other cities with dense demand for mobile connectivity. Because of the picocell’s compact equipment size, it was much easier to obtain permits and install the small cells. However, the requirement for two hours of battery backup in each cell meant the power system had to be compact enough to fit with batteries in the already crowded cabinet. Eltek Valere was able to answer this challenge with the Micropack System.
Eltek Valere has complete solutions for a broad spectrum of wireless network applications, including the mobile telephone switching (MTS) center and the macrocell base station. The company is a pioneer and committed market leader for high-efficiency DC power systems, offering an industry-leading 96% efficiency with many of its rectifiers. This added efficiency has had a significant environmental impact. In February 2011, the company reported a milestone of 200,000 HE rectifiers installed worldwide and estimated that these systems have saved more than US $22 million in electricity costs and prevented more than 140,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. In addition to the Micropack Power System, Eltek Valere utilizes other power solutions ideal for small and medium-scale wireless applications, including: The Eltek Valere Compact DC Power System is an industry-leading DC power system optimized for the demanding power needs of wireless communications and broadband access equipment. Compact, modular and flexible, the system is designed for a widerange of high-current, remote terminal applications. It offers up to 300 amps of power in a 3.5” inch high (2U) package; supports 12V, 24V and 48V rectifiers and flexible embedded bulk distribution, circuit breakers or fuses. In lower capacity base station sites, the small size of the Compact DC Power System can save up to 3 rack units of space compared to regular size power systems, which can be used to install other equipment (for instance, a local management unit to support E911 service). More information is available on the Eltek Valere website. The Flatpack2 is Eltek Valere’s flagship DC power system and is the first system to offer high efficiency (HE) modules. The Flatpack2 HE’s power density and cost efficiency make it ideal for loads from 1 kilowatt to tens of kilowatts. With horizontal airflow many shelves of rectifiers can be stacked on top of each other, and other equipment can be mounted directly on top. Flatpack2 HE systems are available for 48V and 24V wireless needs and come with either the Smartpack or Smartpack2 controller. The Flatpack2
Trilogy Solar system can also be used to integrate solar power into a telecom application. More information is available on the Eltek Valere website. The rapid growth in demand for mobile Internet services has created an urgency around improving network bandwidth and throughput, which has spawned the development of heterogeneous small cell networks. While these networks have the potential to help carriers fill in gaps in the network, to be truly effective they will need the level of power reliability that brings them up to par with macrocell base stations. With its Micropack DC Power System products, Eltek Valere can help carriers to provide highly reliable power to these systems in a form factor that is optimized for the application. While small cells are a key network design innovation, the existing macrocell network will also continue to grow. Eltek Valere’s Micropack System, Compact DC Power System and Flatpack2 Power System give carriers a complete solution set for every wireless network requirement.
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