Case study: Wirewerks' Fiber+Power solution wins Cabling Innovators Gold honors

Sept. 10, 2021
Case study describes how Wirewerks' Cabling Innovators Gold award-winning Fiber+Power cabling solution for IBW 5G Active DAS connectivity can transform large venues including stadiums, arenas and racetracks.

The following case study describes Wirewerks' innovative Fiber+Power™ cabling solution for IBW 5G Active DAS connectivity in large venues including stadiums, arenas, and racetracks.

Wirewerks contends the new platform, which took home Gold-level honors in the 2021 Cabling Innovators Awards as presented at the recent BICSI Fall hybrid conference, re-thinks how 5G Active DAS equipment is typically deployed in large venues.

The awarded Wirewerks' Fiber+Power solution combines specialized fiber cables with two entirely new cable terminal enclosures; plus a new system module for the manufacturer's previously-awarded NextSTEP Fiber Management System.

As explained by the case study, these three elements work together to form an end-to-end DAS cabling platform that extends from the Baseband processor in the network provider’s on-site PoP to more than 300 Remote Radio Units and attached antennas distributed throughout a sprawling stadium complex.

To wit, Wirewerks' Gold-winning CI&M Innovators Awards submission documented how its Fiber+Power platform solved the challenges encountered in deploying a new 5G Active DAS network in a 45-year old, 56,000-seat multi-purpose open-air stadium located in the northern Great Plains.

The venue hosts college and professional football, soccer, concerts and other major events, including several matches in the upcoming 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup -- the most widely viewed sports event in the world.

As reckoned by Wirewerks:

For sports venue owners, the in-person fan experience is everything. To keep the stands full, venue operators are constantly searching for new ways to improve the ‘in-venue’ experience and generate new revenue opportunities. Deploying new technologies that enhance the fan experience is now so important that it is not unusual to see new multi-billion dollar stadiums replacing still viable older venues that may be unreceptive to costeffective technology retrofits.

Providing 5G wireless networking with reliable connectivity everywhere throughout the facility -- for tens of thousands of simultaneous users -- is the latest challenge for venue operators. But what of iconic nationally recognized venues like the Rose Bowl, Fenway Park or Churchill Downs, where the venue itself is an essential part of the fan experience? These venues count on innovative solutions to solve the challenges of retrofitting their classic building envelops with new infrastructure to support -- and leverage -- new technologies.

Similarly, there are many regional and local venues, albeit less famous, that are economically and emotionally significant to their surrounding communities. Here again, venue operators are looking for innovative infrastructure solutions that allow simplified, cost-effective deployment of new technologies in these often-older structures.

Case study

Customer’s challenges: Wirewerks’ customer is the mobility division of a major national carrier offering wireline and wireless telecom services to residential, business and government customers.

For the network provider and the venue owner, the ultimate goal was to provide latest generation 5G wireless connectivity everywhere throughout the entire stadium complex. Their plan called for a new IBW 5G Active Distributed Antenna System (DAS), supported by a new, cost-effective, high-performance cabling infrastructure.

The classic open-air stadium and surrounding buildings presented an interesting set of site conditions and cabling challenges -- even for the network provider’s expert DAS engineers.

Key project challenges, according to Wirewerks, included the following:

  • 1. No power distribution at antenna locations: Optimal RF-engineered locations for antennas were often in areas not reached by the existing power distribution infrastructure.
  • 2. No conduits to antenna locations: No existing conduits and little appetite to extend power and conduits to antenna sites.
  • 3. RRU/antenna sites unreceptive to installation requirements: Optimal antenna locations were often limited in space and/or unreceptive to the physical requirements for RRU/antenna installation.
  • 4. Site includes the primary open-air bowl, retail concourse, out-buildings and parking garage: Required a comprehensive signal/power cabling solution suitable for all DAS configurations in the venue.
  • 5. Single PoP at east side of venue: Single PoP to serve/connect/power 300+ remote antennas, with a long reach (>100m) from PoP to most RRU/antenna locations.
  • 6. Limited space in PoP: Limited space for active equipment, network systems and ancillary equipment
  • 7. Severe weather conditions: Year-round use, multi-purpose open-air stadium in northern plains location exposed to a -40° to 40°C (-40° to 104°F) temperature operating range (typical).
  • 8. Carrier-class performance, reliability, maintenance and operational objectives: Solution must meet network provider’s service level objectives
  • 9. Project logistics, technical support, training and documentation: Just-on-time logistics for cabling system implementation including a full technical support and training program.

Wirewerks’ solution: Wirewerks engineers worked in close collaboration with the network provider’s wireless engineering and field installation teams to develop a comprehensive cabling solution for all configurations of 5G Active DAS equipment deployed throughout the venue’s open bowl, concession/retail concourse, surrounding out-buildings, and indoor parking garage.

For ‘typical’ Active DAS configurations, Wirewerks’ fiber cabling channels connect baseband units (BBUs) located in the provider’s point-of-presence (PoP) with remote hub units (RHUBs) located in telecom rooms (TRs) distributed throughout the sprawling facility. RHUBs then connect to remote radio units (RRUs) and their attached antennas over Wirewerks’ Cat6A/PoE++ UTP cabling channels.

The use of Wirewerks’ fiber cabling and UTP PoE++ cabling provides an effective solution for ‘typical’ antennas sites. However, for most of the venue’s remote antennas, the cumulative limitations of a single PoP serving a sprawling facility; the long cabling distances to antennas; and the absence of power at most antenna locations left the network provider looking for innovative solutions via the cabling infrastructure.

In response, Wirewerks developed a new cabling solution engineered to integrate an optical fiber signal path along with a copper conductor power path over a hybrid (also called ‘composite’) fiber/copper cabling system. Wirewerks’ new Fiber+Power™ hybrid cabling solution solves major challenges often encountered by network providers when deploying 5G Active DAS in large venues.

Wirewerks’ Fiber+Power Solutions - Key Attributes:

  • 1. Allows colocation of all RHUBs with BBU(s) in a centralized PoP, with access exclusively controlled by the network operator: Physical network security; faster troubleshooting/restoral with all BBUs/ RHUBs in one centralized location
  • 2. Delivers power to RRU/antenna locations not served by the venue’s existing lowvoltage power infrastructure: Faster, easier 5G Active DAS deployments; no additional costs/delays to modify low-voltage infrastructure; antenna locations selected for optimal coverage -- not power access
  • 3. Provides superior optical fiber bandwidth, performance and channel reach all the way to RRUs/antennas: Fiber cabling easily reaches every DAS end-point in the stadium complex; fiber bandwidth delivers faster response times and more simultaneous user sessions; fiber cabling provides greater reliability.

Project deployment notes

In the network provider’s PoP, the customer installed their preferred 5G Active DAS equipment in their PoP, including baseband units (BBUs) and remote hubs (RHUBs). Collocating the normally remote RHUBs with the BBU(s) in the PoP gives the network provider several significant benefits including secure access control and easier, faster management of critical network equipment.

The RHUBs support CPRI/eCPRI direct digital optical data transmission over Wirewerks’ hybrid fiber/copper cabling to the remote radio units (RRUs). The copper power conductors in the hybrid fiber/copper cables carry power to the RRUs/antennas from the RHUBs in the PoP.

Wirewerks’ Fiber+Power solutions allow remote antenna sites to be networked and powered over the same cable, deployed in one cable-pull. Designers are free to engineer antenna locations for optimal coverage without compromises for access to the venue’s existing lowvoltage infrastructure.

To terminate and manage the hybrid cables in the PoP, and to create an interconnect field for the optical and power ports of the RHUBs, the solution includes standard Wirewerks NextSTEP 1U Patch Panels equipped with the NextSTEP 12F LC Patch Modules and NextSTEP 12-Pole Terminal Strip Modules.

In the awarded deployment, Wirewerks' NextSTEP 1U Patch Panels configured for Fiber+Power applications manage 12/24/36 SM/MM fibers in standard NextSTEP LC Patch Modules featuring on-board fusion splice trays. Meanwhile, the NextSTEP 12-Pole Terminal Strip Modules terminate and manage 12/24/36 solid or stranded copper 24-12AWG power conductors alongside the LC Patch Modules in the NextSTEP 1U Patch Panels.

Founded in 1991, Wirewerks (Quebec, Canada) is a top manufacturer of advanced optical fiber and copper structured cabling systems and network infrastructure solutions. "At Wirewerks, we believe that innovation is a repeatable process -- not a random event," contends the firm's mission statement. In the last four years alone, Wirewerks notes its new products and cabling solutions have earned more than twenty major industry awards for innovation and engineering excellence.

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