Ericsson added to its radio access network (RAN) portfolio with seven new products, while boasting energy savings without the need for a much bigger footprint.

The Swedish vendor highlighted its dual-band Radio 4490 that comes in lighter than previous generations, weighing 24 kilograms, and provides 25% lower power consumption.

“It has an evolved packet switched fronthaul, meaning an operator can connect directly to an Ericsson Cloud RAN,” said Donal Staudte, strategic product manager for radio at Ericsson, in a video description. It can also be connected to an existing Ericsson baseband using traditional or evolved fronthaul.

Ericsson said the 4T4R radio supports the main FDD bands that many operators globally are using for 5G, including 2100 MHz and 1800 MHz. Later versions will feature additional frequency band combos as well.

While saving on energy, a second dual-band radio, which is new to the lineup, allows for up to 50% more output power than what Ericsson’s current version provides.

Adding to energy efficiency, both radios apply passive cooling techniques – removing the need for fans.

“We continue to evolve our RAN portfolio with more solutions for smart, slim and sustainable 5G networks. Our latest innovations will further optimize 5G sites for both purpose-built and Cloud RAN deployments,“ said Per Narvinger, head of Product Area Networks at Ericsson, in a statement.

All of the portfolio additions are using next-gen Ericsson Silicon, and in addition to decreasing power usage, the vendor touts boosted capacity – in some cases increasing up to ten-fold.

Some of the other new gear Ericsson debuted Thursday includes:

  • A 64T64R Massive MIMO Air radio for mid-band, featuring 400 MHz bandwidth for efficient RAN sharing, with the radio weighing in at 25kg.
  • A 389mm-wide integrated multi-band antenna, which Ericsson said is designed for best wind load durability and for maintained site build requirements.

There’s also new software for the radios and massive MIMO portfolios.

Ericsson dubs one software feature “Expanded Deep Sleep” mode, which helps on the energy front with a hibernation state when there is little or no traffic. It helps lower power per radio during the hours of low traffic (like overnight when most people or businesses are sleeping), while ensuring they’re still fully operational when needed. The vendor said the software enables radios to consume 60%-70% less power during those low traffic hours.  

“Power consumption is a large part of the operating cost for any given radio. Additionally the energy footprint in many cases equals the overall carbon footprint of the radio,” explained Vijay Venkateswaran, strategic product manager for Massive MIMO at Ericsson, in a video about the expanded Deep Sleep mode. “This feature wisely lowers down both the power consumption and the energy footprint without leading to any impact on the performance when it’s needed.”

For example, he said when applied to Ericsson’s Massive MIMO portfolio, the company decreased from around 250 watts of power consumption to the order of 110 to 130 watts. In the remote radio portfolio, 80-watt power consumption was reduced to 30 watts.

A second software addition includes enhancements for 5G carrier aggregation, called Coverage Boost, which promises to expand the reach for mid-band TDD spectrum 60% wider compared to dual connectivity. It now allows up to three sub-6 GHz carrier components to be aggregated and extends into the cloud, with support between RAN Compute and Cloud RAN platforms.

“With this launch Ericsson has shown its commitment to sustainability through energy-efficient products and solutions for 5G rollouts and site expansions,” said Ed Gubbins, principal analyst at Global Data, in the vendor’s announcement.

As data traffic is only expected to increase in coming years (four-fold by 2025, according to Ericsson), and network deployments for 5G to expand, the industry has been working on ways to scale 5G, deliver new and improved services and handle increased traffic, while also reducing overall network energy consumption, noted Ericsson heads of Remote Radio Units and Product Line RAN Compute, in a December blog that detailed the Swedish vendor’s holistic approach to RAN energy efficiency.

The authors pointed out that the RAN accounts for more than 75% of service provider’s network power consumption, mainly due to the large number of radio sites needed to provide nationwide coverage alongside service and capacity.

“RAN energy efficiency is and will grow in importance for service providers because it is the only way to keep energy consumption under control, while still delivering an excellent experience to the consumer and the industry,” wrote Ericsson’s Johan Hultell and Michael Begley.

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