Billion dollar savings in 3G wireless infrastructure

A recent study from PA Consulting illustrates how billions of dollars could be saved by reusing existing GSM sites in the deployment of new 3G networks.

The PA Consulting Group has released the findings of a new study detailing the impact of multi-user detection (MUD) algorithms from Mercury Computer Systems on the capacity, coverage and hardware expenditure required in the deployment of 3G wireless networks.

The results indicate that base stations operating with Mercury’s communications computer could offer both performance and cost saving benefits to both telecom equipment manufacturers and operator companies.

‘Having studied the demonstrable benefits of Mercury’s MUD algorithms, PA Consulting has confirmed that operators using base stations equipped with Mercury’s MUD implementation could realise significant reductions in the number of base stations needed,’ said Alan Kolnik, partner at PA Consulting Group who directs the company’s telecommunications practice in North America. ‘Our models indicate that there should be similar savings in capital expenditures due to the smaller number of base stations needed and the ability to reuse existing network infrastructure.’

‘For the past three years we have been developing adaptive processing techniques to improve spectral efficiency in wireless communications. Until now, the advantages of MUD were mostly theoretical, and affordable implementations seemed distant. By combining algorithm improvements with Mercury’s embedded computational expertise, this study proves that MUD should be deployed in the next release of 3G base stations,’ said Barry Isenstein, vice president and general manager of Mercury’s Wireless Communications Group.

In the study, the PA Consulting Group applied Mercury’s link-level simulation results for base stations equipped with Mercury’s processor modules to a 3G network that was overlaid on a modelled GSM network. PA Consulting Group’s technical and financial analysis demonstrated that, using real-world constraints and assumptions, Mercury’s solution led to 30 to 40% fewer base station sites in a coverage-limited network deployment. For a capacity-limited network deployment, the results also showed approximately 33% fewer sites were required using the same study parameters.

The ability to reuse existing GSM sites resulted in a reduced number of base stations and infrastructure, creating capital expenditure savings of about 30% when deploying a new 3G network. Because base station investments represent the majority of capital expenditures, the savings would amount to billions of dollars when applied to the European market alone.

The detailed simulation and analysis focused on the WCDMA standard, but has general applicability to CDMA2000 as well.