Bend it with base stations: Small cells move Brazil forward ahead of the World Cup

As part of the country’s preparations for the world events it will be hosting over the next few years, including this week’s World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil has undertaken a massive effort to expand and upgrade the country’s wireless infrastructure, including an expanded roll out of 4G networks to both urban and rural areas. This will help the country not only support the influx of visitors during these events, but will also improve Brazilians’ access to information and ability to communicate quickly and easily with each other and the world.

The rollout of 4G networks necessitates more base stations to support more traffic and to extend coverage to new, primarily rural, areas. There are a number of challenges that come along with this extension of coverage that Brazil’s carriers will need to address as they expand into more rural areas. We have been working with customer CPqD on many of these challenges as the company has worked to extend coverage into the primarily rural areas of the country through the use of a small cell network. As part of this work, we’ve learned a few things about how to address a few of these challenges:

Backhaul. Because of the lack of existing infrastructure, backhaul is typically a bigger challenge in rural areas than in urban ones. Carriers must find a way to link remote base stations back to the core network with high bandwidth connections in order to support many of the new wireless services. In rural areas, the networks have typically gone beyond the broadband wireline network that is relied upon in urban areas and must use point-to-point wireless technologies to bridge the gap. While this requires more power at the base station site, it is typically the only option for remote sites.

Power Efficiency. In many rural areas of Brazil, power grids may not be deployed or may not be particularly reliable, which means that the small cell base stations deployed there must be extremely power efficient. Carriers will need to optimize their designs for reduced system power consumption. While small cells are typically lower power than macro cells, their geographic range is often significantly reduced. This trade-off between range and power consumption will require carriers to work closely with suppliers to find the ideal balance between the two.

Reliability. Although small cells are often easily accessible in urban areas, it can be difficult, time-consuming and costly to send technicians to rural areas for repairs. That makes reliability and uptime a key factor for small cells deployed in rural areas. Carriers will need to ensure that small cells and component parts have the durability to go long periods without maintenance and have back up technologies in place to maintain coverage if the device fails.

As Brazil looks to expand its 4G and network coverage to support increased wireless usage in urban areas, as well as extend coverage into rural areas, these challenges will need to be addressed by the carriers. There are a lot of architectures out there that can help to support these challenges, including those featured in our comprehensive portfolio of QorIQ Qonverge SoCs that scale from femto to macro cell support. The flexibility to choose the size, architecture and deployment type will help carriers in Brazil, and all over the world, extend the network to areas that need it as small cell networks are expanded. We’ll continue to share additional lessons learned as our work with CPqD and our other customers progress.

Jeffrey Steinheider
Jeffrey Steinheider
Jeff Steinheider is a Product Marketer in the Digital Networking business group, where he works closely with customers to ensure that their design needs are met. He holds Masters and Bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Jeff enjoys playing soccer with his kids and downhill skiing—though he’s still trying to find some snow in Texas. Find him on Twitter at @jlsteinheider.

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