Transformation in Telecom sector calls for innovation in UPS solutions

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Indian telecom sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, moving up at an average of 22 per cent over the last few years with cellular phone connections also growing at 100 per cent. The country has an investment potential estimated at US$ 69 billion by 2010, and its revenue is projected to touch more than $30 billion by 2013, according to a global information technology research firm. According to Gartner, the telecom subscriber base is expected to cross 770 million connections by 2013, growing at a CAGR of 14.3 per cent from 452 million in 2009.

By Srabani Sen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009: According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the total number of telecommunication connections reached 414 million in February 2009, of which more than 90 per cent are wireless. The telecom network in the country comprises over 35,000 exchanges with switching capacity of over 47 million—427 digital trunk automatic exchanges and over 326,271 route km of optic fibre network. In addition to the two state owned companies—Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL)—several private players have also established a significant presence in both the basic and cellular markets.

The Indian telecommunications sector has undergone a major transformation, with the Telecom Policy of 1999 focusing on creating an ideal environment for investment, establishing communication infrastructure by leveraging on technological development and providing affordable telecom services to all. These objectives of the policy have resulted in rapid growth of subscribers and lower tariffs.

Entry of international players

The majority of growth will now come from the smaller cities, towns and rural villages as teledensity in the major urban centers has reached 82 per cent. It’s worth noting that 70 per cent of the Indian population lives in rural areas and equally importantly, 64 per cent of the nation’s expenditure and 56 per cent of its income come from these villages.

This growth potential has also drawn private players into the market and is now prompting a number of international players, including Telenor ASA and Etisalat, to enter the market.

Broadband services

Another growth driver of the telecom sector are the new services, such as broadband, IPTV, 3G mobile and broadband wireless access (BWA), particularly using WiMax technology. Broadband connectivity is still very low but operators like BSNL and MTNL, along with private players such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, are slowly increasing their DSL customer base in urban centres. Cable companies, such as Hathway Cable & Datacom Pvt Ltd and Sify Technologies Ltd, are also developing broadband businesses, while Reliance Communications Ltd is concentrating on building WiMax capabilities to complement its high speed Ethernet access rollout. Both public and private players are enhancing their technologies and taking the telecom industry to a much higher level of growth.

Power backup for telecom

Behind every smoothly running telecom setup and wireless network, there should be a reliable power infrastructure. Unfortunately, looking at the power scenario in India, an increasingly fragile power infrastructure supports the telecom sector. But the major transformation the telecom sector has undergone and the skyrocketing demand for new wireless products, call for reliable, sustainable and cost effective power backup solutions. In the scramble to meet these demands, one fact has become increasingly clear—there is a massive demand for backup power solutions. The challenge for telecom sector is to find new backup power sources that satisfy multiple requirements—reliability, flexibility, durability and cost effective—propelling the traditional power backup sector to not only provide power backup solutions but also continuously innovate and customised solutions to match the fast technological changes taking place in the telecom sector. Fortunately, several players are emerging with apt solutions that are designed to protect equipment from downtime, damage and data loss due to power problems. However, which power protection/management solution to choose, which brand to select; which player has the capability to customise, are complicated questions and difficult decisions to take. Through this article we would try to answer all such questions and provide a fair guidance to help telecom players to take the right decision.

Application areas for UPS

UPS is the major backup solution in the telecom sector—from changeover time till direct generation takes over. According to Vinayak Joshi, additional general manager, marketing, DB Power Electronics Pvt Ltd, requirement for UPS in the telecom sector can be broadly differentiated into two categories—active and passive. In the active IT category, power backup systems are required for mobile switching centres (MSC), base station controller (BSC) and tower sites. The UPS rating for these requirements varies. For MSC, the UPS power requirement is in the range of 120-160 kVA; for BSC it is required up to 40 kVA; and for towers, up to 10 kVA. Also, small rating UPS of 1-2 kVA is required for the tower which is generally installed onto the tower itself. For passive IT application areas, the size of UPS requirement is bigger—400-600 kVA. Apart from these, AC and DC UPS are also required for mobile equipment. “DB Power has solutions for all these categories and have installations for all the above applications. We have strong presence in the mobile network and majority of the big players like Vodaphone, Aircel, Idea, Reliance, etc, are supported by us,” adds Joshi.

Luminous Teleinfra Ltd has developed an energy management unit (EMU) to provide stable and conditioned AC power suitable for various equipment in the telecom network.

“Energy management for telecom BTS sites and outdoor and indoor BTS sites are vital areas of applications,” points out Paresh Pradhan, director and president, Luminous Teleinfra.

The types required

According to Shashank Paranjpe, director-telecom products, Emerson Network Power, types of UPS and power backup solutions that are required in the telecom sector depend on the requirements and applications of the telecom network. The typical UPS configurations that are required are MSC of 40-160 kVA; data centre UPS of 40-240 kVA; CSC of 1-20 kVA; and UPS of 1-200 kVA for offices and other purposes.

However, Deepak Sharma, director-UPS, Delta Energy Systems (I) Pvt Ltd, says, “The double conversion online UPS is the right UPS solution for this sector. Conventionally, legacy type UPS (centralised large UPS systems) are being used. But today, the trend is to use modular, scalable and high energy efficiency, N+X redundancy and remote monitoring and power control management solutions. With such UPS solutions we can grow as the load grows, have reduced CAPEX (initial investment) and OPEX (running costs). Delta can offer comprehensive and integrated solutions to suit any specific customer need,” he adds.

In mobile towers, operators are more concerned about power saving aspects. Each tower has a transmitter, power supply related equipment, air conditioner, generator, etc. “We critically examine the power saving aspects of these power gadgets. It is critical as this function is linked to other important functions of mobile service, which are monitored by TRAI (for example, call drop, voice quality, etc),” says Joshi.

To reduce the overall energy cost, telecom operators usually share the tower infrastructure like condition equipment and generators. “However, these efforts have not yielded better results. So we offer a special solution of using solar power as additional power backup alternative for mobile towers. Various operators are actively considering these as it is cost effective and sustainable. DB Power has been providing solar PV power supply and grid connect inverters since 1992,” adds Joshi. After understanding the extended backup required in the telecom sector, Emerson suggests a solution. It has introduced a new product—‘IN Pulse’—that provides extended backup for up to six hours.

New types available

As a technology breakthrough, Delta has introduced a state-of-the-art scalable and modular UPS—‘NH Plus’ series UPS—available in ratings of 20-480 kVA. “It is an ideal solution for IT and data centre and telecom tower applications that meet criticality requirements of tiers I-IV. It is easy to maintain and service and helps in improving uptime performance and reducing mean time to repair (MTTR),” points out Sharma.

The new types available with Emerson are the ‘NX series’ and ‘ADAPT series’. These UPS systems are likely to suit all requirements due to low footprint and high efficiency. “Further, these are based on adaptive architecture. The ADAPT series is available in rack mountable configuration as a ready solution with OptimizeIT,” adds Paranjpe. Depending on the application area, Luminous Teleinfra has two types of EMUs—indoor version of EMU and outdoor version of EMU.

Innovations that are taking place

The trend today is to move towards compact systems and rack based solutions to minimise the space required. As networks are becoming more complex, far flung and being managed from remote control sites, UPS needs to be flexible enough to incorporate diagnostics and predictive failure analysis and equipped with multiple network management protocols. UPS are now available with higher capacity chargers, add-on chargers and accessories that provide the user the capability to manage, diagnose and optimise medium to large battery bank installations.

“The challenges of flexible capacity enhancements and lowest MTTR demands are best addressed by modular and scalable UPS like Delta’s ‘NH Plus’ series,” says Sharma. “Delta’s UPS product portfolio meets all of the above challenges and are apt for future needs. We believe in making green power protection for real and committed to environment friendly technologies. All Delta product lines, therefore, have features like wide input voltage range, which helps to extend the life of the batteries; high energy efficiency, which results in lower wastage of electrical energy and saving of electricity bills for consumers; high power density and compact dimensions, which help in saving precious flow space, reduce rentals and provide better space utilisation,” he adds.

To meet the changing technologies in the telecom sector changes is also going in the UPS industry, resulting in a readily identifiable pattern/lifecycle that is offline, online and line interactive. “Adaptive architecture is a new technology, which gives features like modularity, scalability, and has higher efficiency. Adaptive architecture and the inherent features are present in the ADAPT and NX series.” explains Paranjpe.

The patent pending battery-diesel-hybrid solution (EMBU), an Luminous Teleinfra innovation, is a significant initiative in addressing energy OPEX and taking care of the challenges of telecom operators and infrastructure companies. Another Luminous Teleinfra’s innovative integrated infrastructure solution is the remote area power system (RAPS) that uses renewable energy sources for continuous electrical power supply to telecom installations in remote areas. This solution uses various energy sources such as solar PV, wind, grid, diesel generator (DG) and energy storage devices like batteries. It reduces diesel consumption and energy costs as well. This OPEX savings solution is more suitable for off-grid or poor-grid sites. These solutions can be broadly categorised as battery-diesel hybrid; solar-battery-diesel hybrid; wind-battery-diesel hybrid; wind-solar-battery-diesel hybrid fuel cell backup systems, etc.

“As more and more networks are being rolled out, the costs of operation of the network is one of the most significant challenges for telecom players in emerging markets. Each location may have different grid power availability and telcos need to provide for contingencies and backups such as a DG. Low voltage/high voltage and phase missing are other commonly encountered power quality problems. With our leadership position in energy conversion, storage and control technologies we are committed to introduce innovative solutions that will help the industry to improve efficiency, reduce energy costs and size of the carbon footprints,” says Pradhan.

Cost cutting tactics

Telecom companies not only demand tailor made solutions, they also look for cost effective ones. UPS brands are, therefore, making conscious efforts in keeping the cost at a lower side. “The cost of installation and maintenance for UPS ranges from 1-3 per cent of CAPEX in first year and 3-5 per cent every year after that. However, the cost also depends largely on applications installed and site conditions,” says Paranjpe.

“Delta’s UPS systems, particularly the ‘NH Plus’ series, are easy to deploy, install, re-deploy if required, as they have modular architecture. Modular UPS also have low initial investment as the UPS can be ‘scaled’ as the need for power requirement increase. All these are cost effective,” says Sharma. “Due to extremely high energy efficiency of 90 per cent and part loads of 15 per cent only, Delta UPS have very low operating expenses, thereby leading to high savings in energy consumption. Wide input voltage range ensures operation of UPS on mains without discharging the batteries, thereby extending the life of batteries and reducing battery replacement cost. Delta ‘NH Plus’ UPS have active power factor correction which reduces the cost of installation by reducing requirement of DG sizing and AC panels,” he adds.

According to Pradhan, 3,00,000 new BTS sites are expected to roll out in three years in India, where nearly 2,00,000 already exist. “These sites are backed by 15-40 kVA DG sets. Majority of these sites are located in grid deficit areas needing a DG set to run as much as 4-20 hours! Even a typical 15 kVA DG set consumes over 2.5 litres of diesel every hour. But we can provide power backup using EMBU and since it will save energy and is pollution free, it will definitely be a good way of saving money,” says Pradhan.

Changes in UPS technology

Buyer’s demand high reliability, excellent energy efficiency, low input harmonics, improved input power factors, to name a few,” says Sharma. One of the major challenges faced by the telecom players is to provide backup to grid-deficient BTS sites. This challenge has gone deeper as new networks are being rolled out. Also, the telecom applications are now expanding into rural areas where power availability is a major challenge. Earlier, DGs were used for providing backup to these sites. But that not only involves huge expenditure to run but also contributes in environmental pollution. So, the scope has shifted to come up with solutions that will help the industry to improve efficiency, reduce energy costs and size of carbon footprints.

UPS technology has advanced to match the changes taking place in the telecom sector. Outdoor application in higher protection class of IP 52 and above is required for telecom applications. Rack based UPS for IT application for networking/server racks with redundancy, even for lower ratings like 5 kVA, are also used.

“The phenomenal growth of the telecom sector has led to changes in UPS technology as well, and we have added several innovative features like the scalability and adaptability approach. All solutions by Emerson provide these features through adaptive architecture,” says Paranjpe.

Customisation can be done

Delta offers complete customised solutions for the telecom sector. The solutions are not based on the standard product offerings but tailored to meet specific requirements of the end users. For example, Delta offers UPS with extended backup solution and has tropical the UPS to suit Indian conditions, even if they have not been requested by the customers. “New power backup technologies for critical applications and renewable energy solutions to be integrated with power backup applications are being explored,” says Sharma. Emerson also customises solutions to provide scalability and adaptability. Clearly, no fixed power backup solution suits the telecom sector. Customised solutions.“To grow and surge ahead, companies need to keep pace with the changing world and do some thing out of the box which is not a run-of-the-mill job,” concludes Joshi. 

Energy management unit Luminous Teleinfra has developed the energy management unit (EMU) to provide stable and conditioned AC power suitable for various equipment in the telecom network. EMU combines static voltage regulator (SVR), auto mains failure (AMF) panel, AC distribution panel, surge protection devices, alarm panel, DG and battery charger in a modular front access design. This modularity ensures easy access and maintenance and simplified installation• Robust SVR design to perform in worst power conditions

• Integrated AMF functionality

• Integrated real time based aviation lamp controller

• Integrated fire alarm controller

• Integrated AC distribution panel

• Integrated auto phase selector for selecting best two phases out of three

• LCD display for AC voltage, current and frequency

• LCD display for DG run time on auto or manual, EB runtime and battery run time

• LED for alarm and running status

• Auto/manual remote mode of operation for DG control

• Independent battery backup for EMU controller

• Event log for 100 events with date and time stamp

• Front access to RS232 port for programming the control parameters

Application areas for UPS in telecom sector

• For mobile switching centres

• For data centre

• For customer service centres

• For local/zonal corporate offices

Emerson has solutions for all these categories and have installations for all the above applications

• For intelligent network

• For disaster recovery sites (DRS)

• For value added services (VAS)

• For billing servers

• For main switching centre (MSC)

• For micro BTS

Delta has solutions for all these categories and have installations for all the above applications 

NH Plus series’ UPS Salient features of Delta’s ‘NH Plus series’ UPS

  • Scalable design with 20 kVA module in 3U height with capability to parallel up to 16 modules (480 kVA in steps of 20 kVA)
  • Redundancy in any desired configuration from 1+1, N+1, N+X, 2N and 2(N+1)
  • Bus synchronisation option to have independent dual bus architecture. No additional hardware required for paralleling the UPS
  • High input power factor of near unity and low input current harmonics (THDi<3%) leads to savings in installation cost and reduces pollution of upstream power system
  • High overall efficiency in double conversion of more than 94 per cent, even at low loads leading to savings in electricity consumption and reduction of electricity bills
  • Redundant auxiliary power supply and control boards double the insurance towards performance and reliability
  • Inbuilt static bypass and manual bypass (service bypass) further avoid any downtime/interruption of power to the load during repair or maintenance
  • Advanced battery management to enhance the life of batteries. Scheduled battery test with battery replacement warning avoids undesired failure of the UPS system
  • Built-in SDRAM to record 500 event logs

Battery-diesel-hybrid solution by Luminous Teleinfra Some advantages are:

• Significantly reduces the use of diesel

• Removes the need for PIU/EMU/servo voltage stabiliser/line conditioning unit

• Reduces size of batteries used at BTS

• Reduces SMR capacity

• Reduces carbon footprints. Depending on the size of DG set, Telco is eligible for carbon credits under CDM

 Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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