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ZTE CDMA SDR BTS Solution Helps Operators to Reduce TCO


For enterprises, making profit is a prerequisite for survival and development. Under the present circumstances of global economic recession, all telecom operators, whether in developed or in underdeveloped countries, are facing the challenge of making profit.


Figure 1 Users Number and ARPU in Developed and Emerging Markets

As shown in Figure 1, the developed markets see a sluggish growth of users number and the emerging markets experience a decline of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). The negative influence of economic crisis impels the operators to reduce expenses so as to increase cash flow. The operators are paying more attention to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and they are more likely to choose products and the auxiliary solutions with low TCO. Therefore, ZTE focuses on helping the CDMA operators to reduce their entire network TCO by introducing end-to-end solution.

Network TCO Analysis

To reduce TCO, it is necessary to have an understanding of the composition of TCO. Network TCO consists of two parts: Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Operational Expenditure (OPEX). The CAPEX is subdivided into purchase cost and network construction cost. And the OPEX is subdivided into operation cost and maintenance cost.


Figure 2 Network TCO Composition

Figure 2 shows the composition and the proportion of each part in the entire TCO. Apparently, the OPEX accounts for the majority of the TCO and the maintenance cost is the main part of the OPEX. The maintenance cost includes energy consumption expense, site rent and transmission resource rent.


ZTE adheres to the low-TCO idea and takes measures to reduce TCO through the entire network lifecycle from network construction to network operation & maintenance and even capacity expansion and evolution. Figure 3 illustrates the various network phases.

Figure 3 Division of Network Phases

Network Planning

To reduce the network TCO at network planning phase, the most effective way is to reduce the number of sites provided that the network coverage and network capacity are satisfied. There are two kinds of scenarios:

(1) The high densely and less densely populated urban areas, which are limited by capacity. In this case, the large-capacity BTS can be used to reduce the number of sites.

(2) The suburban areas or farms, which are limited by coverage. In this case, the BTS providing wide coverage can be used to reduce the number of sites.

Table 1 Method of Reducing TCO (Sites Number) at Network Planning Phase

Capacity Limited Scenario

Coverage Limited Scenario

Technical Advantage

Proportion of Sites Reduced

Technical Advantage

Proportion of Sites Reduced

ZTE SDR BTS supports a large capacity. A single SDR BTS supports up to 48 carrier-sectors.

A traditional BTS supports 24 carrier-sectors. ZTE SDR solution can reduce 50% sites as compared to traditional BTS solution.

ZTE SDR BTS supports higher transmit power.

Compared with a traditional BTS that supports 20 W transmit power, ZTE SDR BTS supports 40 W transmit power, reducing 33% sites.

ZTE SDR BTS supports new-generation voice coding technique – 4GV.

ZTE SDR BTS solution can reduce 30% sites.

ZTE SDR BTS supports high-gain antennas.

Compared with the traditional solution, ZTE SDR BTS solution can reduce 28% sites with the high-gain antennas.

ZTE SDR BTS solution supports the cell splitting technique.

By splitting three sectors into six sectors, ZTE SDR BTS solution can increase the cell capacity by at most 70% and thus reduce 40% sites.

ZTE SDR BTS solution provides distributed BBU and RRU. The RRU can be mounted on a tower.

Take a 50m-high tower as an example. ZTE SDR BTS solution can reduce 2 dB feeder loss. With the same transmit power at the top of the cabinet, ZTE SDR BTS solution can reduce 40% sites.

ZTE SDR BTS solution supports the four-antenna receiver diversity technique.

ZTE SDR BTS solution can effectively reduce the power consumption of terminals, reducing 40% sites.

ZTE SDR BTS solution supports higher reverse receiver sensitivity.

ZTE SDR BTS can reduce 37% sites by increasing the reverse receiver sensitivity by 4 dB.

Note: All the values are calculated as per certain link budget parameters at the network planning phase.

Network Construction

At network construction phase, costs for site acquisition, site construction, transport and installation constitute the major part of CAPEX. Therefore, ZTE mainly focuses on the four aspects mentioned and find solutions to reduce TCO at this phase.

Table 2 Reducing CAPEX at Network Construction Phase



Outdoor Indoor

Site acquisition cost

The SDR BTS can be installed against the wall. The BBU can be mounted in a standard 19-inch rack to achieve zero footprint.

The integrated outdoor cabinet can accommodate the power supply transmission device, and so on to eliminate the need of equipment room.

Site construction cost

The BBU can be installed in a standard 19-inch rack and the RRU can be mounted on a tower, thus saving 100% indoor engineering expense.

The integrated outdoor cabinet can be used to eliminate the need of equipment room, thus reducing the engineering expense.

Transport cost

The SDR base station features small size and light weight. As all modules are installed in the rack for transportation, 30% to 50% transportation cost can be saved.

Installation cost

The SDR base station features small size and light weight, saving 50% installation and labor costs.

In addition, ZTE also provides a series of competitive auxiliary solutions to reduce the cost. In the auxiliary solution of a traditional base station, the tower, equipment room/shelter accommodating BTS, power supply, transmission device and so on), generator and oil box are distributed, thus occupying a lot of land. In the enhanced auxiliary solution, ZTE uses the outdoor integrated BTS and the following accessories:

Ø   H pole. The antennas are installed at the top of the pole and the equipment is installed in the frame of the pole. The precondition of this solution is that the pole should be easily constructed in the same city/country.

Ø   Shelter. The shelter can be built under the tower to reduce its footprint.

Ø   Integrated generator. The oil box can be directly installed on the bottom of generator to reduce the footprint and construction cost. This solution is suitable for the customers who have no requirement for the size of the oil box.

Network Operation & Maintenance

The network O & M cost accounts for the majority of the TCO. ZTE SDR BTS solution reduces the network O & M cost in the following aspects:

Ø   Saving equipment room rent

As mentioned before, the indoor SDR BTS can be installed against wall. The BBU provides zero footprint when it is installed in a standard 19-inch rack. The outdoor SDR BTS can accommodate power supply, transmission and so on, thus eliminating the need of shelter. Take the indoor application as an example to have a simple cost comparison in Table 3.

Table 3 Comparison of Equipment Room Rent


Traditional BTS


Equipment Room



Rooftop and Pole



It is assumed that a certain network has 100 BTSs. With the use of the SDR distributes BTSs (that is, BBU + RRU), the equipment room rent can be saved by $600,000 every year.

Ø   Saving transmission resource rent

ZTE SDR solution can greatly improve the transmission efficiency. Take E1 transmission as an example. The average level of the transmission resource used in industry is 180 channels/E1. ZTE supports 244 channels/E1 by using its patent compression technology and will support 290 channels/E1 by using the highly-efficient compression technology in the future.

In addition, ZTE SDR BTS supports hybrid transmission, that is, E1/T1 and FE transmission are supported between the BTS and the BSC. As FE rent is very low, the operators can flexibly choose the proper way according to their transmission resource.

Table 4 Comparison of Equipment Room Rent

Typical 1X + EV-DO BTS

TDM Transmission

Hybrid Transmission

Bandwidth Rent


1E1 + 6Mbps

Rental Fee




Rental Cost per year

4*2000*12 = $96,000

1*2000*12 + 6*100*12

= $31,200

Table 4 shows the cost comparison of three transmission modes. We can find that the adoption of hybrid transmission mode can save more than 60% cost as compared with the adoption of E1 transmission only.

Ø   Saving power

ZTE adopts a series of leading techniques to save power:

(1) High-efficiency power amplification

(2) The large-capacity RF system can be used to reduce the power consumption of the single-sector RF link.

(3) The automatic carrier shutdown technique can reduce the power overhead of the BTS by adjusting the number of carriers provided by the BTS according to the change of BTS traffic.

(4) The outdoor SDR BTS uses heat exchangers to replace air conditioners, eliminating the power consumption of the air conditioners.

(5) The automatic temperature control system in the equipment room can be used independently or with air conditioners to save power and adjust the BTS environment temperature 24/7.

Take outdoor BTSs as an example. As shown in Table 5, it is assumed that there are 1000 sites and the charge for electricity is 0.2$/kWh. The use of SDR BTSs can save more than 1 million USD every year as compared with traditional BTSs.

Table 5 Power Consumption Comparison of SDR Outdoor BTS and Traditional BTS

Power Consumption (W)

Traditional Outdoor BTS

Outdoor RF Unit in Cabinet

Outdoor RF Unit

on Tower

BTS (S444)




Air Conditioner




Heat Exchanger












Cost Saving (USD)

(1000 sites/year)


-1.49 million

-1.82 million

Ø   Exploring new energy resources

ZTE SDR solution provides new energy solutions such as solar energy, wind energy and wind-solar power as well as biodiesel. Take wind-solar power as an example. The complementary resources have the following advantages:

(1) Reducing system cost

(2) Independent and simple installation without the need of power supply, which can satisfy the requirement of rapid site construction in remote areas

(3) One-off investment, providing low maintenance cost and long-term benefit

(4) Renewable natural resource, compliant with the trend of saving energy and reducing pollutants

Ø   Saving network maintenance cost

ZTE has developed a series of maintenance tools to save time and labor, and thus help the operator to reduce the network maintenance cost. Take Call Detail Trace (CDT) for instance. The CDT can trace the important information of all subscribers in the access system in real time 7/24 thus changing the traditional way of troubleshooting.

Network Expansion and Evolution

A single SDR macro BTS supports 48 carrier-sectors. A single RF unit supports at most 8 carriers and 1 sector. Due to the capacity advantage, the SDR BTS helps the operator to implement network expansion at a lower cost.

In addition, the SDR BTS supports EV-DO Rev.B. It can support EV-DO Rev.B Phase 2 by channel board replacement and software upgrade. ZTE SDR BTS can support CDMA and LTE simultaneously by adding LTE channel board, replacing the CDMA RF unit with a CDMA/LTE two-mode RF unit, or adding an LTE RF unit. ZTE SDR BTS can protect the operators’ current investment to the utmost, and help them to win the increasingly growing radio broadband market in the shortest time and at the lowest cost.


Centered on customer demand, ZTE CDMA SDR solution can provide customized solutions at low cost:

(1) At the network planning phase, ZTE CDMA SDR solution can reduce the number of sites by using a series of technologies for enhancing network capacity and extending coverage.

(2) At the network construction phase, ZTE CDMA SDR solution can greatly slash the expenses in terms of site acquisition, site construction, equipment transport and installation.

(3) At the network operation & maintenance phase, ZTE CDMA SDR solution can reduce the OPEX in terms of equipment room, transmission, power consumption, energy and maintenance service.

(4) At the network expansion and evolution phase, ZTE CDMA SDR solution can provide flexible, convenient and low-cost expansion/evolution solutions to protect the operators’ long-term investment. ZTE CDMA SDR solution is the best choice for operators.

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