Celcom Axiata Berhad (Celcom) recently announced that it is currently upgrading its network with FDD Smart 8T8R solution from Huawei Technologies Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Huawei).
The Malaysia-based 4G service provider said that it deployed the world’s first large-scale commercial FDD Smart 8T8R network, with “several 8T8R sites in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Perak and Penang. Celcom will be upgrading more 4G sites with 8T8R technology nationwide.”
However Celcom did not share any details when asked about the number of 8T8R sites that will be deployed and the number of 4T4R sites it has at the moment. In late 2019, Celcom had over 9,200 4G sites nationwide. MalaysianWireless believes that some 5,000 Celcom 4G sites are currently capable of FDD 4T4R nationwide. Over 80% of its sites in Kuala Lumpur are capable of 4T4R.
It is also believed that Celcom may be able save tower space, cut tower rental fees by up to half and trim power consumption by 16% with the deployment of 8T8R.
Celcom said the upgraded 8T8R sites will be supporting its existing 4T4R sites within rural and urban areas, easing network traffic congestion, and “delivering a consistent network experience for all Celcom users”.
The Telco also did not disclose the list of supported devices that are capable of supporting the 8T8R technology when requested by MalaysianWireless. It only provided the following statement, “All LTE devices can be supported on Celcom’s 8T8R network technology as the deployed 8T8R equipment enhances network capacity. Consumers with LTE devices do not need upgrade their devices to be on Celcom’s 8T8R network.”
8T8R refers to 8 transmit and 8 receive antenna elements, improving communication between base station and compatible 8×8 MIMO 4G/5G devices with better signal quality and faster speeds. Most high end 4G smartphones today are capable of 4×4 MIMO. For the ultimate network experience, a 8×8 MIMO 4G device works best with a 8T8R base station.
Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) is a technology that uses multiple transmit and receive antennas to transmit and receive radio signals simultaneously. This improves communication quality.
The Telcos said the Smart 8T8R network initiative is part of Celcom’s accelerated network investments of over RM250million and it will increase existing 4T4R network capacity by close to 80%, reducing network traffic congestion and delivering an enhanced user experience on 4G. Huawei’s FDD Smart 8T8R network technology maximises the potential of both existing sites and spectrum resources to significantly improve mobile capacity and user experience.
The FDD Smart 8T8R technology incorporates software-defined antennas (SDAs) and FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) dual-band RRUs (Remote Radio Units), as well as Huawei’s innovative algorithms to support on-demand upgrades such as software adjustments, resulting in maximised hardware potential to meet the rapid data growth and network capacity demands of 4G. The Smart 8T8R technology also features a Power Boosting software whereby it supports advanced power management for base stations to achieve additional coverage gains and bring OPEX savings with a smaller expenditure on energy.
Afizulazha Abdullah, Chief Operating Officer (Technology) of Celcom Axiata Berhad said “Celcom has been relentless in optimising its network coverage, capacity and resiliency by accelerating investments at the most needed areas with the latest radio access network technology. We are mitigating the data traffic surge as our utmost priority by utilising Smart 8T8R technology and mitigate the network congestion to deliver an improved consistent network experience.
“Celcom’s ongoing accelerated network investments are aligned with the government’s Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA) aspiration to achieve nationwide 4G coverage. We will also continue collaborating with Huawei to further innovate and implement technical breakthroughs, ensuring the best network experience for all Malaysians,” Afiz said.
As of the end of March 2021, Celcom customers consumed an average 21.8GB a month. Celcom’s 4G population coverage is currently at 93% while 89% of the network is enhanced with 4G LTE-A.