Africa ‘needs bespoke site solutions’
“With the right infrastructure configuration at the cell site, a mobile operator can achieve both capital and operational cost savings, including a reduction in the cost per Watt of power to run each base station, whether from erratic grid supplies or when using diesel and alternative power sources,” says Peter Jackson, director for Communication Components, at Africa Com in Cape Town.
Jackson says: “Our message to operators everywhere is Optimize! Optimize! Optimize! Optimize the air interface, the RF plan, the network design, but don’t forget to optimize the cell site – how it’s equipped, configured and managed.”
Jackson says that while operators in countries such as South Africa and Nigeria are forging ahead with latest technology deployments and progress, many in the rest of Africa, whilst aspiring to latest technology roll-outs, are still relying, for the most part, on their existing 2G assets to deliver core services and revenues.
“Although we see many big operator groups in Africa, they don’t tend to dictate across the board that their regional companies adopt and use technology in a similar way because such an approach just won’t work; every country has its own unique challenges, and effectiveness comes down to local decisions. Operating companies have their own legacies and no one size fits all. That’s why bespoke solutions and configurations of equipment at the cell site are so relevant.”
But Jackson has a key message to stress, “Bespoke is often a word which conjures up the image of being more expensive than an off-the-shelf solution. In the case of cell-site enhancement and optimization solutions, however, bespoke does not need to be expensive and the dramatic improvement in network service capacity and quality such an approach will deliver, together with capex and opex savings, makes it an essential ‘no-brainer’ for operators.”
From using state-of-the-art Bi-Sector Array™ antennas and the latest power converter technology, together with effective engineering O&M regimes, including the latest in PIM (Passive Intermodulation) detection and rectification tools and procedures, cell site enhancement and optimization should be addressed as a matter of urgency for all operators.
Jackson concludes, “If you consider that Nigeria alone has some 20,000 base stations in operation and analysts project the country needs 70,000 to achieve optimum coverage for its rural and urban populations, for just a fraction of those to be underperforming without an effective cell site enhancement and optimization strategy, means operators are potentially throwing away major revenues and are unlikely to be delivering the quality of service they could.”