The explosive growth in mobile phones has been supported by a similar growth in the underlying networks of base stations used to connect calls. This has created headaches for network administrators charged with keeping an increasing numbers of base stations active at all times. Now a convenient new power and management cabinet allows administrators to manage the entire operation of base stations remotely, reducing time and costs and improving range.
EUREKA project SAEB98 brought together a Spanish lead partner, Amper Soluciones, with expertise in telecoms network management systems and a German specialist in power plants for the industry, Ascom Energy Systems.
"The best thing about EUREKA is the ease with which companies from several countries of the European community can work on a common project, utilising each other's expertise without having to deal with bureaucracy".
Juan Carlos Galilea
"Base stations for mobile phone networks are normally located in places where access is quite difficult," explains Galilea. "With our system, the operator can remotely determine the real problem in the base station and monitor other systems such as alarms and communication lines as well as air conditioning, an external beacon, and even whether the door is open."
Some problems can be solved remotely while others are detected in advance so that maintenance staff is forewarned about the problem.
The control unit is built in a small cabinet and offers at least 25 per cent more power in the same volume than existing models. The extra power increases the range of the base station and the small size means the station can be installed in awkward locations such as petrol stations or church spires.A battery subsystem maintains supply in the event of a power cut.
The remote management strengths of the unit show through in daily maintenance of the station, says Juan Carlos Galilea Technical & Technological Support Director of Amper Soluciones.
Administrators can monitor the state of the base stations continually and fix any problems remotely as they arise.
Galilea stresses the importance of using software simulations to speed up the design process. Rather than build prototypes, for example, the project partners used computer simulations to adjust the density of elements in the power system and keep the temperature under control.
"Simulations and then mechanical prototypes were used to determine the final structure. This allowed us to reduce development costs," he says.
"The best thing about EUREKA is the ease with which companies from several countries of the European community can work on a common project," says Galilea, "they can utilise each other's expertise without having to deal with bureaucracy".
The partners now aim to supply the cabinet to network operators in Europe and around the world.