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A New Deployment Mindset for Macro Cells

March 30, 2021

The world’s insatiable appetite for bandwidth shows no signs of slowing down. As a result, network infrastructure and Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are faced with ever-accelerating deployment rates for network technology and equipment.

According to Moore’s Law1, accelerated network equipment R&D spend, along with increased competition, will cause CSPs to face increasing pressure to deploy new equipment and expand capacity faster. Wireless network infrastructure spending alone will top $35B USD per year through 20222. This effort is complicated by downward pressure on average revenue per user values, driving a critical need for reduced deployment costs with no reduction in network quality.

Over the past two decades, CSPs have extracted much of the available excess margin out of the current network build model. This model includes a highly skilled and highly mobile workforce frequently impacted by supply chain problems, logistical challenges, worker shortages, and increased requirements for training and certification.

America's wireless companies are investing an estimated $275 billion into building 5G networks. This will create three million new jobs and add $500 billion to the economy.3

The network build effort is being bolstered by massive fiber and 5G rollouts that feature more complex equipment, an increased number of nodes, and a projection of more dense network elements closer to the end user. The end user is more mobile than ever, and the bandwidth requirements are pressing to extend to more rural and remote locations as demand continues to grow.

The industry is also leaning more towards whitebox and cloud-based infrastructure, requiring network deployment resources to be increasingly technically nimble and skilled not only in equipment deployment and installation, but also in testing and integration.

With the flood of increased expectations and volumes, CSPs need to implement a new model; one that includes simplified methodologies, increased efficiencies, one touch network node installations, and the ability to rapidly pivot to environmental challenges and technology evolutions.

Macro Cell Deployment Challenges

Macro cells are still a major component of the new network deployments in the United States. With over 200,000 macro cells already in place, thousands of additional macro cells are projected to be built every year for the foreseeable future. In deploying macro cells, CSPs have several obstacles to overcome to be successful and cost effective as network deployments move faster and become more complex:

  • As deployments extend to more rural and remote locations, the impact of errors, omissions, and defects significantly delay node integration. Out-of-box failures, missing materials, and unclear requirements identified in the field can result in hours of lost time.
  • The more time spent at the node installation location, the more likely interruptions will occur. The average wireless tower crew loses 46 days per year due to poor weather conditions. These disruptions compound the impact to overall build schedules and timelines.
  • Working in the field is challenging. Harsh environments can lead to mistakes and omissions purely based on the complexity of the tasks at hand. Safety and quality are regularly at odds with one another.
  • Training and certification of deployment resources that are widely distributed and constantly moving is a challenging problem resulting in a reduction of available work resources, slowed production, and increased costs.
  • Remote deployments often result in highly skilled resources performing a multitude of tasks including many menial ones. This results in unnecessarily inflated labor costs for much of the work effort.
  • Remote deployments often result in process, technical, and quality variations on the end-product. The consistency of work done in the field is simply hard to manage. This can result in increased QA/QC, program, and project management requirements.
  • Late changes to design parameters frequently occur after the material has been ordered. This results in supply chain and logistical problems that may emerge at the time of installation, resulting in delays, remobilizations, and additional priority shipping costs.
  • Changes to build standards and processes can take months to propagate throughout a network deployment project, possibly resulting in revisits to correct and remedy.
  • Access to highly skilled engineers or integration resources is impractical for every remote installation and can result in additional delays when problems or complications arise.
  • A complicated remote build results in increased network outage times and reduced network quality, making new technology and increased capacity slower to market.

A New Deployment Mindset

Increasing deployment speed and quality requires a substantially different approach than what is used for current network deployments. There needs to be a new methodology that completes as much work as possible in a central, controlled environment, and allows equipment to be deployed into the field that has already been installed and integrated into the network.

In this methodology, the mindset is to simply move the equipment to its permanent location. This methodology is known as AWTI (Assemble, Wire, Test, and Integration) and will increase speed-to-market, increase overall deployment quality, and reduce costs. The AWTI process as part of an end-to-end deployment management system is depicted here

The AWTI Solution

  • Performing validation of order versus Bill of Materials (BOM) and BOM versus design to ensure that exactly the right materials are sent to the field location the first time.
  • Central utilization of skilled and semi-skilled resources to provide production line assembly, testing, and integration of network equipment.
  • Reducing the volume of materials sent to the field and reducing waste produced on site.
  • Identifying damaged or defective equipment before it goes to the field.
  • Minimizing the scope of work of expensive highly skilled field installation teams.
  • Accelerating network deployments by reducing the time required to complete the in-the-field portion of the installation.
  • Improving overall network quality by reducing the field installation network down-time.

To explore how AWTI can benefit your macro cell deployments contact the KGPCo Wireless Services team.

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  1. “Moore’s Law”: http://www.mooreslaw.org/
  2. “Worldwide 5G network infrastructure spending expected to nearly double in 2020”: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/worldwide-5g-network-infrastructure-spending-expected-to-nearly-double-in-2020/
  3. “The 5G Economy”: https://www.ctia.org/the-wireless-industry/the-5g-economy

Learn More

 Macro Cell Deployment: The AWTI Advantage

 How AWTI Can Accelerate Your Small Cell Deployment

 A New Deployment Mindset: Small Cells

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