Wireless Systems Design

T1 Platforms Help Wireless Carriers Face E-911 Mandates

Doing more with less has become a fact of life in today's economy. For the wireless carrier, this order can be tough to fill. It's especially hard to do when changes in regulations mean extra services, such as Enhanced 911 (E-911). To make matters worse, this mandate must be supported from flat budgets.

Upgrades to current network infrastructures are almost unavoidable. The FCC requirement calls for wireless carriers to provide precise location information to within 100 m. In addition to the equipment that's required to support a network-based E-911 system, other hardware must be installed to transmit backhaul data from the location sensor at the cell site to the E-911 server. These remote servers are typically located in public-service facilities, such as fire stations and first-response centers. At first glance, supporting E-911 may look like an expensive endeavor. But for the cash-strapped carriers, this doesn't have to be the case.

The single biggest operating expense that most carriers have is the cost of the T1 backhaul network. Often, this network is leased from other carriers. It's a simple fact that most backhaul facilities are poorly utilized. Anywhere from 35%-40% and sometimes even 50% of the available T1 capacity often goes unused.

Meanwhile, many carriers are facing CDMA or GSM overbuilds. These overbuilds can significantly increase costs in the T1 backhaul network. In many cases, these costs can be reduced or eliminated completely. Implementation of a T1 optimization strategy can increase T1 utilization from the current 35%-50% to 80% or better. Doubling utilization can cut T1 costs in half. At the same time, E-911 and CDMA/GSM overbuilds present an opportunity to reduce costs in the T1 backhaul network.

T1 base-station access platforms can help regional wireless carriers backhaul traffic in an economical way. They can just backhaul it from E-911 equipment scattered at various cell sites. Rather than use two T1s at half capacity, it makes sense to combine them together and cut leasing costs in half.

Until now, the notion of cost savings has been targeted at the other end of the network with a focus on switching. However, a better opportunity to reduce expenses can be found by looking at the source. The consolidation of unused bandwidth on carriers' T1 circuits is possible through the use of T1 base-station access platforms. These applications provide a tangible cost savings on the T1 backhaul network. Additionally, the resulting newfound bandwidth can be used to support E-911 systems without additional cost. This approach is truly a case of doing more with less.

In a compact package, the currently available T1 base-station-access-platform products integrate the following: channel service units (CSUs), data service units (DSUs), digital signal (DS) -level 1/0 micro-DACs, voice compression, management, and T1 performance monitoring. This level of integration keeps physical size and power consumption to a minimum. At the same time, it offers more than adequate port capacity.

Network-based E-911 systems require a DS0 to be backhauled from each cell site. As a result, these platforms generally provide a full suite of T1 performance-monitoring tools. These data-enabling proactive tools provide for the monitoring of the backhaul network.

CDMA or GSM wireless-network overbuilds require additional T1 lines. A DS0 grooming strategy can eliminate the need for new T1 lines. In many cases, it also can reduce the number of T1 lines that are presently deployed. A successful grooming strategy allows operators to selectively remove channels from one facility for routing to another, more suitable facility. Basically, grooming allows the operators to drop and add payload flexibility.

Let's summarize the biggest message that regional wireless carriers are sending today: Money must be saved while deploying systems that can support multiple technologies. But securing the investment capital to deploy these complex, multifaceted systems isn't enough. They also must be efficiently and effectively managed.

The remote management of devices in a network continues to be a common request by most major carriers. Fortunately, the technology is now available to manage several devices located in any cell site. These devices can include multiplexers, microwave radios, and other types of telecommunications hardware.

This remote-management capability presents an opportunity to provide meaningful T1 performance data and statistics. It also helps the operators to better manage the cell-site workforce. If they have the capability to diagnose problems at a cell site from a remote location, carriers will save both time and money. This reduction in costs and management time is enhanced by the benefits of complying with the E-911 recommendations. Obviously, this technology approach has a lot to offer. It should look very attractive to regional wireless carriers.

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