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Case Studies

Spark Mobile/Cisco Mobile Packet Core Deployment

Since the inception of data capabilities in the mobile network, the mobile packet core has been the proverbial linchpin that makes it all happen.

Sure, the mobile network needs cellular towers and associated equipment to make it go, but it’s the mobile packet core is the brains of it all—maintaining your mobile connection when you’re on the go and serving as your gateway to the digital world.  Cisco’s mobile packet core solution has played a big part in making this happen and it’s Cisco’s vMME (virtual Mobile Management Entity) that was the chosen solution to meet Spark Mobile’s demands on this project.

Installation standards

One of the reasons NEC New Zealand is trusted to deliver critical infrastructure projects like this one is our high installation standards.

The key to the long-term success of a project like this is delivering a high standard of internal cabling. One of the biggest issues that can occur with installations like this is overheating. When wiring is installed haphazardly, it can lead to cooling issues which in turn can lead to outages. The goal of our installation team is to minimise the amount of cabling required. This helps to provide the necessary air flow so that cooling can take place and ensure an acceptable temperature is maintained.

Another key to high installation standards is to ensure accurate labelling of all cables is undertaken, making it easier to isolate any potential issues that develop and making maintenance on the mobile packet core much easier for engineers. With over 80 connections, it’s crucial for an engineer to be able to quickly and accurately identify an issue without having to guess which cable is which.

Tailoring our solutions to the needs of our customers

Another thing that sets NEC New Zealand apart from our competitors is out ability to tailor solutions specifically for our customers. For this deployment, we manufactured cable mounting bars specifically to meet the requirements of this project, helping to ensure constant airflow and cooling within the pods.

With a project like this, where space is at a minimum due to the size of the pods, it is important to maximise the ROI on the project. Bad installation practices chew up a lot of space. By creating custom made mounting bars and minimising the amount of cabling used, we managed to maximise the space taken up within the pods, making cooling much easier but also ensuring ease of maintenance moving forward.

We also applied seismic bracing and strengthening to the equipment racks to ensure they matched Spark Mobile’s standards.

The Pods

The Pods used to house the mobile packet core are more of the answer to modern rack mounted ‘data centre’ sized equipment going into 1950’s cavernous switch rooms.  These outdated switch rooms are extremely expensive to manage, especially in terms of maintaining the right temperature as the original gear was not temperature sensitive so you would need a gigantic plant just to keep empty space cool. 

The answer is to create ‘pods’ that sit inside these spaces but are 100% self-contained with dedicated power and aircon that are seismically secure.  You could just about collapse the building around one and it would keep going.

However, these things are expensive to build so you need to maintain a high density of your most sensitive equipment inside them to generate the best ROI.  To do that you need to optimise every aspect of the build.  Slim line fibre drawers leave more room for equipment and proper cable management allows better airflow and access for servicing.

Outcomes

This was a project that was successfully delivered both on time and on budget to extremely high standards. This resulted in a very satisfied customer and some really positive feedback from Cisco, the supplier on this project, “We have been very happy with the quality of work from NEC. It would have been good for some of our other customers to have used NEC I&C Services to get the same level of quality,” said Paul Gilroy from Cisco.

You can read more about our Field Service solutions and get in touch with one of the team today.

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