Microwave is an important part of mobile backhaul. With widespread applications of 4G networks and the deployment of Pre5G, microwave networks have grown constantly and their topologies have become increasingly complicated. Microwave is characterized by multiband and difficult antenna adjustment. To meet operators' needs for growing business development, rapid and accurate deployment of microwave networks at an optimal cost is required, which has great impact on the project construction cycle. During the maintenance phase, a complete network monitoring is also required, which helps to find hidden dangers in time and to implement network optimization and adjustment. This ensures transmission quality and provides secure transmission channels for traffic at the base stations.
A microwave project contains two key phases: network construction, and network operation and maintenance. Network construction involves network planning, site commissioning, and site acceptance. There are also some problems in the on-site microwave project (Table 1).
ZTE's microwave system provides an end-to-end service tool solution that covers all key scenarios from network construction to network operation and maintenance (Fig. 1). The solution can maximize efficiency and minimize costs.
Tools Used in Key Scenarios
Network Planning Tools
CXP-MW is a special microwave planning software used in the preliminary planning phase. Based on the information about frequency bands, sites, and base stations provided by an operator, CXP-MW can quickly calculate the data concerning network topology and link capacity.
PL5, short for PathLoss 5.0, is universal network planning software used in the industry. Based on the information about frequency bands, sites, and base stations provided by an operator, PL5 can calculate the data concerning network topology and radio links and output the planning files such as Linksummary and Sitelist. PL5 is third-party software that has an advantage in accurate radio link planning and is chiefly used for network planning in the engineering phase.
ETP-Designer is ZTE's microwave equipment planning software that converts the Linksummary and Sitelist files output by PL5 into ZTE's microwave hardware configuration parameters. ETP-Designer outputs hardware configuration for the network and sites, rack diagrams, NE configuration parameter files, and DLD files.
Site Commissioning Tool
ETP-Genius is Android-based app that imports the NE parameter configuration files generated by ETP-Designer into NEs for site commissioning. ETP-Genius can also upgrade the version of NE software and provide antenna-assisted debugging. After completing site commissioning and debugging, ETP-Genius automatically collects site information for site acceptance.
Operation and Maintenance Tools
ETP-Debugger is fault diagnosis and maintenance tool for microwave sites. It can extract information via one button, analyze information, and remotely extract information.
U31 EMS is microwave network management platform that provides all-round management of microwave networks and sites, including batch NE configuration, remote batch upgrade, and one-button inspection.
Key Function and Procedure Analysis
Based on the requirements and site information provided by operators, network planning engineers design radio links with CXP-MW or PL5, export Linksummary and Sitelist files, import the files into ETP-Designer, and then set parameters as required by projects. Based on the configured parameters, ETP-Designer automatically calculates hardware configuration, plans IP and DCN data as well as topology connection, and outputs site BOM and DLD files, board position and connection diagrams, EMS parameter planning tables, and NE configuration parameters. NE configuration files are also automatically generated.
When a site is commissioned, ETP-Genius directly imports the configuration files into NEs for automatic configuration. After the NEs are restarted, the configurations take effect, and the NEs report the operating status information to ETP-Genius for site acceptance.
Network Operation and Maintenance
Version upgrade, fault handling, and routine inspection are implemented in the network operation and maintenance phase. ZTE's microwave system provides a full range of tools. U31 EMS provides a remote batch upgrade module that can automatically identify network topology, check system security before and after the upgrade, and upgrade the system to ensure security and efficiency of the version upgrade. U31 EMS also provides a one-button network inspection module that can collect, summarize, and analyze network data and give suggestions for improvement according to the user-defined rule sets. ETP-Debugger collects and analyzes the information about indoor and outdoor units, and maintains full-outdoor and silo sites.
Tool Value Analysis
Configuring Consistent and Accurate Data
The data input to and output from key scenario tools are fully consistent with each other, ensuring the consistency and accuracy of data transmission. This provides end-to-end support for the project, reduces the difficulty of project management, and improves project efficiency.
ETP-Designer generates synchronously hardware configurations, DLD files, and NE configuration parameters to ensure data consistency in the network design and engineering phases. This reduces human design errors.
Improving Network Planning Efficiency
ETP-Designer reduces the complexity of generating specific device configurations, and automatically calculates hardware configurations of the network and sites according to user settings and the cost optimal principle.
Lowering Personnel Skill Requirement and Site Commissioning Cost
The configuration parameters and versions can be downloaded with one button for site commissioning. ETP-Designer generates configuration parameter files necessary for site commissioning. When a site is commissioned, ETP-Genius imports the parameters into NEs in one effort without complex on-site configuration. This lowers the personnel skill requirement and site commissioning cost.
Reducing the Maintenance Difficulty and Cost
High maintenance efficiency and low maintenance cost are achieved due to the tower climbing-free maintenance for full-outdoor products. ETP-Genius extracts information and locates faults by connecting full-outdoor NEs via WiFi, saving engineers the bother of climbing towers.
Based on user settings, one-button network inspection makes complete statistics and analysis on microwave network KPIs and automatically generates reports, providing basic data analysis for network optimization.
The development of large-capacity and IP-based wireless networks poses new challenges to microwave networks. To satisfy the new requirements of wireless backhaul in the future, ZTE will continue to explore in the fields of new service support, intelligent networking, and cloud data processing to offer optimal microwave service tool solution that will create greater value for operators.