What is HYBRIFLEX?
A simple but obvious first question Matt, what is HYBRIFLEX?
I’ll give you the simple answer before explaining in a little more detail – put simply, it is a cable that contains any combination of elements for example optical fiber and DC power into a single solution. Other possibilities we have included in HYBRIFLEX are small form coaxial cables and ethernet cabling. It was designed in 2010 to support operators moving to deploying Remote Radios on the tower top model and since then has evolved to enable a wide range of applications and overcome some of the biggest challenges that operators face when designing and building network infrastructure. Fiber is easily damaged, making it difficult to combine. HYBRIFLEX, as a single lightweight, crush resistant, aluminum corrugated cable achieves this to streamline the volume of cables needed, which, in a base station deployment for example, helps to overcome space limitation challenges. It was designed with customers in mind, giving us the flexibility to tailor the solutions to suit specific preferences and specifications – with an armored solution, for example. The cable also requires fewer installation materials and steps, reducing installation complexity and accelerating deployments to save both time and money for customers.
How has the product evolved since its initial launch in 2009?
The original HYBRIFLEX was designed predominantly with vertical applications in mind – connecting Remote Radio heads (RRHs) to Baseband Units (BBUs). However, the range of use cases for this type of solution has grown exponentially over the last 10 years and is now one of the most versatile and popular products in the RFS portfolio. The R&D teams are continuously looking at ways the HYBRIFLEX cable can be used to overcome wireless challenges and evolving and adapting the solution to suit those needs. It has taken operators from 3G to 4G and now being deployed in 5G rollouts across the globe with more than 65 million feet of RFS’ HYBRIFLEX manufactured worldwide.
What are some of the applications that HYBRIFLEX is being used for?
C-RAN is a critical part of operator strategies as they look to run the leaner business models necessary to ensure ROI when it comes to network costs. HYBRIFLEX is used worldwide to connect RRHs and BBUs up to 40km apart, enabling operators to make the most of the efficiency driven by a C-RAN model.
Since the initial development, the HYBRIFLEX solution has been developed by our R&D teams to support a huge variety of applications across the world. These range from in-building solutions to delivering power and connectivity for remote active equipment. It formed part of the DAS (Distributed Antenna System) solution to bolster wireless connectivity at venues in Brazil during the 2016 Olympic Games. It formed a core part of the infrastructure that was deployed in the New York Subway to deliver in-tunnel connectivity and dozens of other use cases across the globe.
What role do you anticipate these solutions will play in the role out of 5G?
5G is changing the entire landscape of network infrastructure, and operators and those responsible for delivering wireless connectivity will need to adapt. One of the big challenges is in-building solutions. Of course, it depends on the frequency you operate in, but building a 5G network that lives up to its promised potential will require a more spread-out infrastructure with a heavy focus on small cells and in building DAS and DRS (Distributed Radio Systems) solutions. The HYBRIFLEX cable as a flexible and streamlined way of delivering both power and connectivity to key infrastructure will play an ever more significant role in the arsenal of operators looking to deliver cost effective, efficient, high capacity 5G networks and at RFS our teams are ready to help support this.
If you’d be interested to hear more about the HYBRIFLEX solutions get in touch with Matt Gauvin, Global Product Line Manager Fiber and Power Solutions to set up a meeting.