One of the key differentiators for RAN equipment providers in the coming years will be energy efficiency, as operators struggle with rising power costs and with their environmental targets. Ericsson has made bold claims for the latest generation of its venerable antenna-integrated radio (AIR) family, and says the AIR 3268 delivers 18% field-measured reduction in power consumption compared to earlier generation radios.
The first Asian operator to use this very lightweight radio and active antenna unit will be the region’s newest – Malaysia’s wholesale 5G provider, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB). It will deploy the Massive MIMO system in midband spectrum. The product supports, according to Ericsson, real-time channel estimation and ultra-precise beamforming, to enhance coverage and user experience, as well as its Uplink Booster capabilities for performance.
The AIR 3268 weights 12 kilograms (40% less than its predecessor) and measures 23 liters, and features 200W output power, 32 transceivers and passive cooling.
David Hägerbro, head of Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh, said: “The new generation radios that will be deployed throughout Malaysia by Digital Nasional Berhad will be comparatively more energy efficient, thereby ensuring a more sustainable and responsible 5G roll-out.”
Ericsson also recently announced a new triple-band, tri-sector 5G radio, the Radio 6646, to extend its portfolio further into sub-GHz bands. It supports 900 MHz, 800 MHz and 700 MHz in a compact add-on to midband 5G radios. Ericsson said that the combined unit reduces size and weight by 60% compared to single-sector triple-band solutions, and can reduce energy usage by 40%.
Vicente Abad, RAN technology and support manager at Telefónica Spain, said: “Ericsson’s new Radio 6646 will offer a highly compact and flexible solution to expand 5G coverage in a very cost-efficient manner while being economical and sustainable – the footprint and energy consumption achieved are something we believe will be a powerful driver for 5G, and we look forward to the first deployments in Spain.”
Ericsson believes sub-GHz spectrum will be more widely used once operators migrate to 5G Standalone, which do not have an LTE anchor, making it important to extend 5G coverage rather than rely on 4G dual connectivity.