Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Huawei reached a new milestone with the innovation of commercial SuperLink solution in Dammam in May. This is the first time ever in the industry that a single-antenna link provides a 10 Gbps bandwidth for traditional bands. The link has run well on the live networks and delivered high performance during the past six months, exactly as it is designed. This deployment reduces the number of antennas by 67% and the amount of hardware by 70%, providing a simplified and large-bandwidth 5G solution for suburban areas.
Saudi Arabia, one of the world's pioneer 5G markets, embarked on 5G deployment in 2019. 60% of its 5G sites on the live networks use microwave for data transmission. However, long-reach E-band solution is mainly designed for urban areas, which does not suit for suburban areas. In addition, deploying traditional frequency bands poses high requirements on frequency resources, antennas, and tower loads, and the capacity of a single link is less than 5 Gbps, which cannot meet the backhaul bandwidth requirements of 5G.
To solve these problems, STC cooperated with Huawei to continuously innovate and develop the SuperLink solution. This solution can avoid parallel links, reduce the amount of hardware by 70%, slash the cost of antenna transportation, swapping, and tower rent by 67%, greatly reducing the TTM and TCO. In addition, the bandwidth of a single antenna or a channel can be smoothly upgraded to 10 Gbps.
SuperLink solution consists of a groundbreaking multi-band antenna and Quad Carrier CA ODU.
The multi-band antenna supports 6 GHz, 7 GHz, and 8 GHz, or 13 GHz, 15 GHz, and 18 GHz simultaneously, enabling multiple bands to be deployed over a single antenna for higher bandwidth. This helps eliminate the need for installing multiple antennas to form parallel links. During capacity evolution, operators do not need to add a new antenna for a new band. This eases the deployment and upgrade by lowering the requirements for tower space and antenna re-alignment.
Quad Carrier CA ODU integrates four channels in one hardware, saving 75% of ODUs. Furthermore, higher modulation modes and higher channel bandwidth are supported to increase the capacity of a single ODU by 400%.
Eng. Bader A. Allhieb, infrastructure VP of STC Saudi Arabia, said: "SuperLink avoids hardware stacking for long-reach large-capacity microwave, which eases the deployment. It provides a higher bandwidth and effectively covers suburban areas with 5G. What's more, SuperLink can be combined with the long-reach E-band solution that can provide smooth coverage in urban areas to accelerate STC's 5G deployment. "