5G O-RAN Radio Unit Targeted at Indoor Deployment

Article By : Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio

Benetel is developing 5G platform solutions that are compliant with the latest O-RAN interface specification and targeted at indoor deployment...

Benetel is developing 5G platform solutions that are compliant with the latest O-RAN interface specification and targeted at indoor deployment. The latest addition of an open radio unit (O-RU) to the company’s RU product family is called RAN550 O-RAN and delivers 100MHz of instantaneous bandwidth, with up to 250mW of output power per transmitter path.

In an interview with EE Times, Adrian O’Connor, CEO of Benetel, pointed out that RAN550’s modular architecture can support 7.2 split fronthaul network configurations and is equipped with two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports for fronthaul network interfacing. The built-in antennae support 4T4R MIMO operation.

“There’s a strong motivation for operators and businesses to invest in indoor in much the same way as they would invest in outdoor networks. Caroline Gabriel, principal Analyst at Analysys Mason, commented recently that for new networks the importance of indoor quality of service is equal to that of outdoor quality of service, rather than being an afterthought. And Benetel has chosen to prioritize indoor product release first, but we will be releasing outdoor solutions as we move forward in the next few months. We’re not ignoring our outdoor products, it’s just that we’re prioritizing indoor right now,” said O’Connor.

5G indoors
Outdoor deployments have taken priority over indoor ones in past generations of mobile networks. This focus often led to a situation where users received a reliable and robust signal when moving outdoors, while performance was not always up to par inside buildings. The loss of signal or drop-in indoor voice and data communications has directed research projects toward optimizing this technology.

The new mobile standard enables a more comprehensive range of applications and supports many use cases, and is crucial to the digital transformation initiatives of many industries and society as a whole. For this reason, the indoor and outdoor experience must be of the highest quality or new ways of working, communicating, studying, and being entertained, from extended reality to sensor-based automation, will not materialize.

5G will play a critical role in ensuring an equal connectivity standard across a large number of devices with very different characteristics. Although most devices do not need a high-performance connection, in terms of throughput and low latency, they do require in-depth indoor coverage and low power consumption.

Figure 1: 5G indoor (Source: Benetel). 

Given the higher investments required, the need to search for new solutions and approaches that allow the realization of more flexible architectures and support the introduction of new functionalities related to 5G, becomes more pressing. In this perspective, several initiatives are emerging that propose different nuances, the concept of ‘OpenRAN.’

OpenRAN refers to open and interoperable interfaces within various subcomponents of the RAN: the radio, hardware or baseband unit, and the software. From a historical perspective, the evolution of OpenRAN for mobile networks closely parallels the transformation of legacy IT networks and is supported by a dynamic community of operators.

OpenRAN has the potential to accelerate 5G availability through various deployment models and strategies. These include accelerating the deployment of small cells, both outdoor and indoor, and expanding the use cases they serve, as well as deploying 5G at the macro and metro levels.

Benetel Technology
The combination of elevated performance parameters, small form factor and low total cost of ownership, means the new 5G Radio Unit is particularly suited to indoor deployments, which are set to become increasingly commonplace. This device has a bandwidth up to 100MHz, capable of supporting multi-carrier and RAN sharing implementations at sub-6 GHz. Other features are maximum radio coverage with optimized 4T4R, adjustable TX output power options to address challenging environments, and up to +24dBm per antenna.

Figure 2: BEN009 Benetel RAN550 (Source: Benetel). click the image above to enlarge.

“The RAN550 is the latest in the product family of indoor 5G radio units developed to be compliant to the latest O-RAN version interface specification. This flagship product incorporates improved radio capability, O-RAN CUS and M plane support and is architected for enterprise deployment.”

This initial release will support the 5G n78 band (3.3 GHz to 3.8 GHz), with additional frequencies (upper n77 band and n79 band) already under development. In this way, Benetel will target specific markets around the world where the spectrum is made available. The modular architecture of the RAN550 easily lends itself to adaptation with filtering and power amplifier coupling for specific frequency bands.

5G is not only an evolution of 4G; it ‘enables’ a new digital ecosystem based on the speed of transfer and processing of a large amount of data, connecting tens of thousands of devices at the same time and offering significantly better stability and coverage. This widespread infrastructure will pave the way for a huge variety of heterogeneous and innovative services in many sectors of the data economy, including transport, manufacturing, industry, energy, health, and agriculture.

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